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Legal observers refused entry to trial of Afghan teenagers accused of burning down Moria refugee camp

Refugee support groups warn the boys are being made scapegoats for the EU’s inhumane migration policy

A GREEK court refused to allow independent legal observers and journalists to attend the trial of four Afghan teenagers today accused of burning down an overcrowded refugee camp last year.

The infamous Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Chios burnt down last September, leaving about 12,000 people without help from the authorities for days until a new camp was built on what was later revealed to be a former military weapons testing ground.

Six teenagers have since been accused of starting the fire, but 70 refugee support groups signed an open letter last week warning that the teenagers’ right to a fair trial was at risk and that they were to be made scapegoats for the EU’s inhumane migration policy.

“From the moment of their arrest and before any due process of law, they have been presented to the public as the culprits,” the open letter reads.

“Rather than seeing the fire as an inevitable disaster in a deadly camp infrastructure, the Greek state arrested six young Afghan migrants and presented them as the culprits and sole cause of the fire, attempting to stifle further public debate on the living conditions inside the camp and political responsibility.”

Waiting outside the court after members of the public were refused entry due to space restrictions, members of Legal Centre Lesbos said today morning that the defence lawyers’ applications to have three of the defendants’ cases heard before a juvenile court, owing to the fact that they were minors at the time of their arrest, was rejected.

Two of the Moria Six, as they are referred to by activists disputing the Greek authorities’ version of events, were jailed for five years after a six-hour trial in March.

The case against the four boys was ongoing as the Star went to press.

Elsewhere at Fortress Europe’s edges, the EU-supported Libyan Coastguard intercepted and returned over 450 people attempting to escape the war-torn country on Thursday night.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) also warned that its rescuers with its ship Geo Barents had also been threatened by the Libyans during a rescue mission in the central Mediterranean on Thursday. 

“The Geo Barents has just completed a rescue of 26 people including 15 unaccompanied minors from a small wooden boat 44 nautical [miles] off Sabratha,” MSF tweeted on Thursday evening.

“While the rescue was ongoing, the Libyan Coastguard was verbally intimidating and threatening the MSF team via radio.”

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