Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Greek court acquits illegal immigrants of escape from 'wretched' cell

GREECE, Thessaloniki: A group of illegal immigrants was justified in escaping from a police lock-up last year because of the miserable conditions in their overcrowded cell, which was filthy, ridden with disease and had no running water, a Greek court has ruled.
The court in the north-western city of Igoumenitsa said the 15 adults - from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Morocco - had been held for up to six weeks in ''wretched and highly dangerous'' conditions.
The decision to acquit the migrants of escaping detention is a strong indictment of Greece's treatment of detained illegal immigrants, which has been criticised by international human rights groups. A spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency in Athens said it was a significant first for a Greek court to acknowledge that people held in such conditions had no option but to try to escape.
The country, grappling with revived anti-immigrant sentiment, is the main entry point to the EU for thousands of undocumented migrants from Asia and Africa, and has started a drive to round up and expel them.

More than 30 inmates were crammed into a 15-square-metre cell with no running water or bedding and just one chemical toilet, according to the ruling. It said the Igoumenitsa lockup was never cleaned and the detainees were coping with lice, skin disease and typhoid.
The men had been held in the port city pending deportation for allegedly illegally entering the country, and they escaped on October 1 by pushing past police guards who had entered the cell to clear rubbish.
In his ruling the judge said the duration and conditions of their detention were in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Associated Press


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