Unjustified conviction of a desperate mother after suicide attempt
Statement of the initiatives CPT Aegean Migrant Solidarity, borderline-europe e.V., You can't evict Solidarity from 09.02.2023:
On 08 February 2023, a 29-year-old woman was convicted of arson and damage to property. She attempted to burn herself to death out of desperation in the notorious Moria 2 camp on the Greek island of Lesbos in the winter 2020 and 2021.
M.M. was acquitted with the charge of arson endangering others. A conviction for this felony would have meant up to 10 years in prison. However, she was found guilty of intentional arson and damage to the property of others, which resulted in a suspended prison sentence of 15 month.
This was unanimously decided by a mixed jury, although even the prosecutor saw it appropriate to drop the accusation. What is scandalous is that the jury did not consider the act as self-harm, which is not punishable in Greece.
The lawyers of the organisation HIAS Greece were initially shocked and disappointed by the verdict. Acknowledging the facts should have led to an acquittal. An act of desperation is not a crime. Therefore, the lawyers will appeal against the verdict.
The court's decision not to recognise the catastrophic circumstances of the camp, which were the cause of the desperate act and for which the Greek state is responsible, was as politically motivated as the trial itself. Numerous supporters followed the trial, almost 500 people had signed a petition for an acquittal.
The situation in the camp was catastrophic in the winter of 2020/21. The place close to the sea is completely unsuitable for living: The tents repeatedly collapse or are flooded due to strong winds and heavy rain. There is a lack of medical care, privacy, electricity, running water, hot showers, functioning toilets and other hygiene facilities.
The neighbouring residents in the camp rescued her from the burning tent and extinguished the fire with water bottles and towels. M.M. was taken to hospital with severe burns and was directly interrogated by the police and treated like a criminal. Unbelievably, instead of offering help and psychological care to the traumatised family, M.M. was charged after the incident.
Her lawyer points out that a pregnant woman belongs to the vulnerable group, therefore M.M. should have been transferred to a suitable accommodation. The Greek state has already lost several such cases before the European Court of Justice.
The family has since been able to move to Germany with their now four children (aged almost 2, 3, 6 and 8) after a corresponding application by her lawyer. M.M. is still severely traumatised and the whole family is suffering massively from the prosecution. We are glad that M.M. did not attend this trial personally.
For M.M., the verdict does bring a little relief, as she no longer has to report regularly to the Greek embassy. Nevertheless, the conviction of M.M. for her suicide attempt, which is not punishable under the Greek penal law and has now been brutally classified as intentional arson, is to be seen as a new escalation of the criminalisation of protection seekers. This is primarily intended to deflect attention from the responsibility of the Greek state and the EU to ensure adequate living conditions for people seeking protection.
Alice from borderline-lesvos: "This process is so twisted. A call for help, a suicide attempt by a woman is made into a crime. The circumstances that led her to commit this act are the real crime. At least she doesn't have to go to prison. That is a relief, of course, but not justice."
Kim, You can`t evict Solidarity campaign: "We are shocked by the unjust sentence, instead of an "apology" and a full acquittal, now a conviction. This is not the first time that migrants in Greece have been convicted on absurd grounds, representative of the disastrous conditions in the camps and the brutality of the EU external borders.”
We continue to stand in solidarity with M. M. and her family and against the deadly European border regime!
We call on the Greek state and the EU to take responsibility for the inhumane camps!
- Stop the criminalisation of migration!
- Stop the isolation of people on the edge of the EU!
- No more Morias!
- Acquittal for M.M!