LESBOS, GREECE (AP) – An appeals court in Greece has ordered the release of a Somali migrant who had been sentenced to life in prison for people smuggling.
Mohammad Hanad Abdi was sentenced to 142 years in prison in 2021 after being convicted following a deadly crossing in a dinghy from Turkiye to the nearby Greek island of Lesbos the previous year.
At an appeal on Monday on the Greek island of Lesbos, his sentence was reduced to eight years and an appeals court judge ordered his release, recognising time served and good behaviour
The trial was attended by several members of the European Parliament who had argued that Abdi, a 29-year-old father of four, had been wrongfully convicted. “We are all in tears with relief.
It was a very difficult day. The state prosecutor took a tough line and wanted to uphold the sentence,” European Union (EU) lawmaker Stelios Kouloglou, who led the campaign and attended the trial, told The Associated Press.
Abdi told the court he had only steered the dinghy after it had been abandoned by a Turkish smuggler during the 2020 crossing to Lesbos from the nearby Turkish mainland.
Two people drowned when the vessel took on water while 33 others were rescued.