EU Lawmakers Step in to Assist Somali Man Facing Life Sentence in Greece

A court in Lesbos, Greece heard the case of Somali migrant Mohammed Hanad Abdi, who is serving a life sentence for people smuggling. Abdi is appealing his sentence, arguing he only steered the dinghy after it had been abandoned by a Turkish smuggler during a deadly crossing in 2020 which led to two deaths and 33 rescues.

Abdi and his lawyers have received support from a coalition of European Parliament members, Greek artists, and both Greek and International human rights activists. This attention follows a number of other cases also involving excessive sentencing of refugees. For example, last month Afghan refugees Akif Razouli and Amir Zahiri were released on appeal: while Razouli was acquitted, Zahiri’s sentence was reduced from 50 to 8 years.

These efforts to reexamine these convictions and sentencing guidelines have been met with pushback from the Greek Center-Right government, which frames these policies as part of their strict but fair border defence. Nonetheless, the international solidarity for this legal campaign is growing, and calls for an end to the unjust practice of condemning innocent refugees to such exorbitant sentences.

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