Greek farmers acquitted after shooting migrant fruit pickers

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Following a lengthy trial a Greek court has acquitted two of the men who shot and injured 28 Bangladeshi migrant fruit pickers.

On Wednesday 30th July, the court in the city of Patras acquitted two of four defendants in the case which had lasted for over a month. The other two defendants were convicted of firearms offences and given lengthy prison sentences. However, because of the Greek system, the two convicted men were also released pending an appeal.

The trial investigated the shooting of the migrant workers in April 2013 at a strawberry farm near the village of Manolada in the region of Elis on the west of the Greek mainland.

Workers not paid for six months

The workers, who are from Bangladesh, had not been paid for six months. They were living in squalid conditions without sanitation. In April last year, they approached their employer demanding to be paid.

After a tense standoff, the farmer, unnamed in press reports, and his foreman and two other employees shot the workers. All the defendants admitted the shootings but the farmer and the foreman were acquitted and walked free.

28 of the Bangladeshis were injured, four of them seriously.

'An outrage and a disgrace'

The lawyer who represented the migrant workers, Moisis Karabeyidis, described the verdict as 'an outrage and a disgrace'. He said 'The court showed an appalling attitude toward the victims'.

Interviewed by the UK's Guardian newspaper, Petros Constantinou of the Greek Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat said that the verdicts were an 'unprecedented racist scandal'.

He said 'The hundreds of millions of profit made in the strawberry industry cannot come about by shooting labourers in strawberry fields'.

'A foreign worker can die like a dog'

Vassiliki Katrivanou, an MP for the radical left opposition Syriza party said that the verdict 'sends the message that a foreign worker can die like a dog in the orchard.

'It leaves room for new victims by closing eyes to the brutal, inhuman and racist character of the exploitation suffered by workers on the land'.

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