A Syrian refugee has been sentenced to 52 years in prison for crossing into Greece from Turkey last year, the Independent reported on Thursday.
A Mytiline court on the Greek island of Lesbos announced the decision last Friday on KS, the refugee identified only by his initials, ruling that his crossing was “illegal.”
According to campaigners, KS had crossed from Turkey to the Greek island of Chios by boat with his family, including three young children, and dozens of others in early March 2020.
The family had originally sought refuge in Turkey after fleeing the civil war in Syria. However, KS claims that he had refused to participate in the Turkish military operation in Libya and was briefly imprisoned as a result.
Following his release, he and his family sought to escape to Greece, traveling to Chios, the closest island by boat, only to be denied the right to asylum upon arrival due to a controversial policy introduced earlier that month.
Caught up in the chaos at the Greek-Turkish border, KS was one of many to be hit with “illegal entry” charges.
However, he was also accused of “facilitating illegal entry” and causing a “shipwreck “after Greek authorities accused him of having been at the helm of the boat that his brought his family and as many as 40 others to Greek shores.
“They want to show people to stay away from Greece and to criminalise people who are fleeing,” Johannes Körner, spokesperson for You Can’t Evict Solidarity, a campaign supporting asylum seekers in Greece, told The Independent.
As a result, he said, KS “will be sitting in prison for nothing… for just fleeing Turkey and fleeing Syria”.
“It’s insane,” Körner said. “It’s crazy that he’s been given such a long sentence”.
Sourced By: The Independent