The struggle for the vindication of the victims of state crime in Pylos continues

8 of the Pylos 9 are finally free.

And the struggle continues, one year after the Pylos shipwreck.

The trial of the 9 criminalized survivors of the Pylos shipwreck happened on Tuesday 21 May 2024, and the verdict was exonerating. The Three Member Felony Court of Appeals of Kalamata found that the Greek State had no jurisdiction to prosecute the Pylos 9 for “participation in a criminal organization” and “causing the shipwreck which resulted in people losing their lives”, since the events that led to the Adriana shipwreck happened in international waters. The court also dropped the charges against them and acquitted them of the charges of “smuggling” and “illegal entry in the national territory”, after recognizing that the passengers of the Adriana never entered Greek territory, nor had they ever the intention to do so.

A verdict in favor of the defendants was unexpected since we have seen the criminal legal system consistently fail to make fair and just decisions in cases where people on the move are involved. Indeed, people criminalized for crossing borders and aiding others to do so are the second largest group in Greek prisons and are condemned to serve the longest prison sentences. 

The decision in the case of the Pylos 9 is a positive development in this legal and political climate. However, it also shows the 9 should never have been arrested, nor held in pre-trial detention for 11 months.

Even after their belated acquittal, the suffering of the 9 continued, this time coming from the Greek police, which vindictively ordered their administrative detention, as the authorities claimed that the 9 could flee the country while waiting for the result of their asylum applications.

The defense team representing the 9 proceeded to file objections against this arbitrary detention. The objections were accepted, but only for 8 of the 9 survivors, who were finally released.

The survivor who is still detained is a 20-year-old man whose application for asylum has already been rejected twice, while he was held in pre-trial detention. He has been transferred to the notorious Pre-removal Centre of Petrou Ralli in Athens, where he is detained and threatened with deportation to Egypt. So, nothing is over yet. We will continue to demand his immediate release and proper treatment as a survivor of a deadly shipwreck. No one is free until everyone is free!

The case of the Pylos 9 illuminates how the deadly, violent and torturous border system functions to crush and extinguish  people’s lives. Even when someone is officially proclaimed “innocent” and “free”, as a person on the move, this is almost never the case. Border violence does not end with the crossing of the border but extends beyond it.

The struggle continues to hold the real culprits of this crime accountable.

So far, 53 of the survivors of the deadly shipwreck have filed a criminal complaint against all responsible parties before the Naval Court of Piraeus, stating that the Greek authorities failed to immediately intervene and to organize a timely and adequate rescue operation, while at the same time they proceeded to an effort to tow the “Adriana” vessel, that resulted in its capsizing and sinking. The complainants demand an immediate, thorough and reliable investigation and the attribution of criminal responsibility for the acts and omissions of the Greek authorities. 

We stand in solidarity with all the survivors and demand justice for the more than six hundred victims of this state crime. We demand an immediate end to the systematic deadly border violence and freedom of movement for all.

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