On 08 May 2023, after almost three years of waiting, the smuggling trial of A.B. is scheduled to take place in Mytilene/ Lesvos.
A.B., an Iraqi national who arrived in Lesvos, Greece, on March 2020, is being tried under Greece’s harsh anti-smuggling law, under which migrant’ boat drivers’ are prosecuted for smuggling and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences simply for having steered the boat across a border. Migrants are targeted under this law even though many are forced to steer the boat after the actual smugglers abandon them at sea after the migrant boat departs Turkey, and even though those accused have not received any material benefit for ‘facilitating’ the crossing of a border. Since 2015, thousands of people have faced these charges with the increased arrivals of boats from Turkey to Greece. People accused or convicted of human smuggling now make up Greece’s second-largest prison population. The prosecution of A.B. is unfortunately not unique, as targeting migrants as smugglers have become a part of migration “management” in Greece and throughout Europe.
The targeting of A.B. is particularly evident. In his case, there is video evidence showing that he did not even steer the boat, yet three years after he arrived in Lesvos, he still faces these charges. Meanwhile, his asylum case has been suspended, and his life in Europe is on hold. We hope that A.B. will have his day in court on 8 May 2023, where the only logical outcome will be his acquittal, and A.B. can finally put this unjust prosecution and years of uncertainty behind him.
You can read our previous statement on the details of A. B.’s case from the initially scheduled trial in December 2022 here.