Greek Court docket Rejects Effort to Toughen Punishment After Killing of an American


ATHENS — A Greek court docket on Friday rejected an effort to toughen the punishment for a gaggle of males convicted within the beating dying of an American on a vacation island in 2017, upholding the unique convictions of six males for grievous assault and spurning a name to search out them responsible of homicide.

Prosecutors had sought the retrial after the preliminary verdict for the killing of the American, Bakari Henderson, a Black 22-year-old faculty graduate from Texas, arguing that the sentences had been too lenient. A lawyer for his household known as the choice from the court docket, within the western metropolis of Patras, “a tragic day for Greek justice.”

The choice implies that the sentences had been unchanged for 5 of the lads, who had been already free after finishing their sentences for the assault convictions. The sixth man, who had obtained an extended punishment, can be launched within the coming days after the court docket diminished his time period.

Jill Henderson, Mr. Henderson’s mom, stated that the household was “extraordinarily disheartened” with the decision. “Sadly, it seems that almost all sympathized with the defendants versus our son, a Black American,” she stated, including that the household would take the case to Greece’s Supreme Court docket.

Mr. Henderson was killed in the course of the summer season of 2017 on the island of Zakynthos. The assault made worldwide headlines due to its brutality and claims by witnesses that it could have been racially motivated.

His family members, who’ve traveled to Greece a number of instances for the 2 trials, stated the preliminary convictions weren’t commensurate with the brutality of the assault. They stated they needed to see Mr. Henderson’s attackers obtain the utmost penalty for homicide, a life sentence. Beneath Greek regulation, that will imply 20 years in jail.

9 males who had been initially implicated within the assault went on trial for homicide in 2018. Six of the defendants had been convicted, however of a lesser cost — grievous assault — and three had been cleared. After that trial, a Greek prosecutor, Giorgos Bisbikis, persuaded judges to retry the six convicted defendants on the unique homicide prices.

The idea of double jeopardy applies in Greek regulation solely when a verdict is closing. As a result of the unique determination was appealed by a prosecutor and due to this fact not closing, the retrial was potential. It started in February.

The retrial ended on Friday when a blended appeals court docket of three judges and 4 jurors narrowly upheld the unique convictions, four to three, with two of the judges, together with the president of the court docket, supporting the prosecutor’s proposal for homicide convictions.

“Bakari Henderson got here to our nation as a vacationer,” the household’s lawyer, Christos Kaklamanis, stated after sentencing on Friday.

“For the second time, our system of justice betrayed him,” he stated, including that the choice “offers the message that different such acts of violence will be forgiven.”

Mr. Henderson had been touring in Greece with pals and selling the launch of a clothes line on the time of his dying in July 2017, based on his mother and father, who had been in Greece for the retrial.

The prosecution’s primary problem had been to persuade the court docket that Mr. Henderson’s assailants had supposed to kill him, however the protection argued that his dying, although tragic, was unintended.

Video from safety cameras within the resort city of Laganas confirmed a brutal assault. A crowd of males will be seen chasing Mr. Henderson down a avenue earlier than hurling him in opposition to a automotive and laying into him with a hail of punches and kicks. On the time, a Greek police spokesman stated that Mr. Henderson died inside 30 seconds.

Of the six who had been initially jailed, a Briton of Bosnian descent had obtained the longest sentence, 15 years. That sentence was diminished to eight years on Friday after the court docket discovered that he had proven good habits following his conviction, and he can be launched in a number of days. Convicts often serve a couple of third of the sentences meted out by courts, based on the Greek penal code and parole system.

The opposite 5 males, all Serbs, got sentences of 5 to 10 years however had been all free by the point of the retrial.

Testimony by witnesses recommended that the assault on Mr. Henderson may need been racially motivated. A bartender advised Greek investigators that when she had posed for {a photograph} with Mr. Henderson, a person standing close by commented: “There are lots of Serbs within the bar. Why are you speaking to a Black man?” The lady stated the bystander then punched Mr. Henderson, who responded by placing him over the top with a beer bottle, an trade that was additionally captured on video.

Violent fights usually are not uncommon in Laganas, a resort favored by younger vacationers for its low cost alcohol and raucous nightlife. Lately, the authorities on the island have tried to curb alcohol-fueled offenses whereas sustaining the overseas tourism that helps the native economic system.

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