Fisherman Sentenced to 4,760 Years in Greek Prison Sentenced to Centuries of Confinement

An Egyptian fisherman sentenced to 4,760 years in a Greek prison has been sentenced to hundreds of jail terms.

H. Elfallah was found guilty this week of “smuggling” nearly 500 people from Libya to Greece in November 2022, including 336 men, 10 women, 128 boys and nine girls, and received a “smaller” sentence of 280 years. instead of.

Activist groups have condemned the ruling, saying the fisherman, who was one of the migrants on board the ship but also piloted the ship, is being used as a scapegoat by the Greek authorities.

A 45-year-old Egyptian fisherman was found aboard the ship when it arrived at the Cretan port of Paleochora at the end of November 2022.

The boat, which lost control due to strong winds offshore, issued a distress signal to the Greek Coast Guard, which brought the ship ashore and rescued the people on board.

The dilapidated ship sailed from Libya to reach the coast of Italy, and the smuggled migrants on board were mainly from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan and Palestine.

When Greek authorities boarded the ship, they immediately arrested seven migrants who were trying to get the ship to safety, including Elfallah and his 15-year-old son, borderline-europe, a human rights NGO, said.

The charity says Elfallah is not responsible for the smuggling of the nearly 500 migrants aboard the ship and claims he was reluctant to take control but was forced to do so due to the dire circumstances of the journey.

“Elfallah could not afford several thousand euros for a trip for himself and his son,” writes the NGO. “In exchange for a lower price, he and his son agreed to do some housework, which is very common on a flight route to Europe.”

The Egyptian and his son reportedly wanted to be reunited with another son who already lives in the UK.

As European borders have become increasingly militarized in recent years, and the criminalization of illegal migration has only worsened, smugglers now routinely leave migrants behind to cross the Mediterranean or Aegean on their own, often entrusting them with boats to their “clients.”

“It goes without saying that someone has to pilot the boat, especially a boat of this size,” borderline-europe wrote in a report published last week.

“A boat this size actually needs a few people to take care of the navigation, steering and mechanics. Usually, if there are people in the group with at least some sea experience, they take on the duties of the helmsman, which only makes sense and should be in the interests of everyone who claims to think about the well-being of people on board. .

According to the organization, Elfallah has been targeted by the European authorities, who are trying to blame someone for the fact that boats with migrants still reach the shores of the continent, despite widespread attempts to stop these journeys at the starting point.

People who help make migrants’ journeys safer aboard the ships carrying them are “arrested and treated like criminals, punished to deter others, used as scapegoats to divert attention from the responsibility that Europe bears with its policies.” closed borders, which forces people to board these boats and make these journeys in the first place,” the NGO writes.

Elfallah was charged with “unauthorized entry” and “unauthorized transportation of 476 third-country nationals into Greek territory” with the aggravating circumstances of “endangering the lives of passengers”, “acting for profit” and “belonging to a criminal organization”. .

According to article 30 of the Greek migration law, a fisherman could receive a 10-year sentence for each person he transported, which gives him a total of 4,760 years in prison.

But the court on Monday ruled for 280 years “only”, taking into account “his reasons”.

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