After a series of difficulties and threats of postponement, the trial began regularly today.
As we have previously stated, the transfer of the trial from Mytilene to Chios can only be viewed as yet another tactical move of the state against the solidarity movement that has developed for the 35 persecuted migrants. A move that aims at isolating the migrants from the wave of solidarity in Lesvos, creating crucial obstacles for those in solidarity, as well as for the witnesses, making it difficult for them to attend the trial. The coincidence of the ferry strike on the two days before the trial prevented people in solidarity from traveling from Athens and Mytilene to Chios, creating isolation conditions that the state desired. Apart from that, it also gave the police forces the opportunity to fail to transfer two of the accused migrants, leading to a heightened risk of the trial being postponed This obstacle was overcome though the mobilisation of lawyers in Athens, who secured authorisation from the two migrants for the lawyers already in Chios to represent them without their presence, as they remained in the transfer department in Athens. The strike was also used as an excuse for not transferring the official interpreter for the Wolof and Bambara dialects from Athens – the only dialects in which four of the migrants can communicate. In order to find a solution, an asylum-seeking migrant from the VIAL detention centre was called forth.
In Chios, in the days before the trial, local tabloids tried to create an atmosphere of terror concerning the trial, which was occasioned by the calls for a solidarity rally outside the courthouse, from Athens and Mytilene. In the end, the only terror in the city in the morning were the dozens of cops of every kind (riot police, plainclothes police, port police along with many others) who surrounded the courthouse, and all the while controlled everyone who was trying to come close to the courthouse. During this large and unprecedented for Chios police mobilisation, with more than 100 police inside and outside the courthouse, even cops that were on a leave of absence were recalled.
With regard to the court, the trial began after a short delay, while waiting for the authorisations from Athens. After the recess, the charges were read, with the interpreters only partially translating for the accused, as the court instructed the interpreters to speed up the process. Subsequently, the four jurors were selected, and then the defense attorneys were asked for independent claims concerning alterations of the charges. The attorneys made claims concerning the charges for “life-threatening arson” and “aggravated damage to property”, in order to change them to “damage to foreign property”.
After the claims were lodged, the court ordered a recess of the trial, and its continuation on Monday, April 23rd, at 9am.
The trial is being followed by lawyers from abroad who have come as international observers.
Solidarity with the persecuted migrants from Moria and P. Ralli
Solidarity Assembly with the 35 Persecuted Migrants