ATHENS — In the summer time of 2017, Bakari Henderson, a 22-year-old American scholar, was crushed to demise on the Greek vacation island of Zakynthos. The males convicted in Mr. Henderson’s case have been initially charged with homicide, however a court docket as an alternative discovered them responsible of assault and most have served their sentences and been launched.
On Wednesday, a court docket started in earnest to retry the case, once more on homicide prices, after the protection requested a delay on Monday. The retrial comes after a prosecutor deemed the assault convictions and subsequent sentences too lenient.
“We’re starting from the very beginning, a blank slate,” mentioned Christos Kaklamanis, the lawyer representing the household. “They all face murder charges.”
This kind of retrial is uncommon. The idea of double jeopardy is utilized in Greece, but it surely solely attaches if a verdict is closing. Since the unique choice was appealed by a prosecutor, it was not closing and there could be a new trial on the identical unique prices.
The lethal assault, which adopted an argument at a bar, made worldwide headlines, and Mr. Henderson’s household has returned to Greece for the retrial.
Postponed a number of instances as a result of of the coronavirus pandemic and authorized obstacles, the brand new trial lastly acquired underway in town of Patras, in western Greece, on Wednesday. The defendants are 5 Serbian nationals, a Briton of Bosnian descent and a Greek nationwide who was launched in the primary trial after a conviction for easy assault with time served in pretrial custody. It was not clear what number of of the boys would seem on the retrial as a result of some have returned to their dwelling international locations.
Mr. Henderson, a university graduate from Austin, Texas, had been touring in Greece with associates and dealing on a images shoot for the opening of a clothes line on the time of the assault, in July 2017.
Video from safety cameras on the occasion resort of Laganas in Zakynthos exhibits a savage assault. A swarm of males will be seen chasing Mr. Henderson down a avenue earlier than throwing him in opposition to a parked automobile and punching and kicking him repeatedly. A Greek police spokesman mentioned on the time that Mr. Henderson died inside 30 seconds.
Witness testimony instructed that the assault could have been racially motivated. A feminine bartender advised investigators that when she had posed for a selfie with Mr. Henderson, who was Black, a person standing close by commented: “There are a lot of Serbs in the bar. Why are you talking to a Black guy?”
She mentioned the person then punched Mr. Henderson, who responded by hitting him over the top with a beer bottle. That alternate was additionally captured on video contained in the bar.
Of the 9 males initially charged in the beating, six have been jailed. The Briton acquired the longest sentence: 15 years in jail. Five of the Serbian suspects acquired sentences from 5 to 10 years however have since been launched (beneath the Greek penal code and parole system, precise time spent in jail usually finally ends up being lower than half the sentences meted out in court docket). Now seven of the boys face the unique homicide prices once more.
Mr. Henderson’s household needs the attackers to serve the utmost penalty for homicide, a life sentence, although virtually in Greece which means 20 years in jail.
“After being slapped in the face, Bakari was defending himself in what started as a one-on-one incident that stopped when they went outside,” Jill Henderson, Bakari’s mom, mentioned in an electronic mail.
“So for the mob to then chase Bakari down,” she wrote, “beat him to death, and leave him in the street to die is not a fight but a slaughter, which was inhumane and barbaric behavior.”
Mrs. Henderson, who has since established a basis to offer assist for households in mourning, added, “Justice will be served when all defendants are charged with intentional homicide, sentenced accordingly, and extradited back to Greece to serve their full sentences.”
To safe extra extreme phrases, the prosecution should persuade the court docket that the assailants supposed to kill Mr. Henderson. If the retrial produces assault convictions once more, some of the convicts would possibly find yourself spending little or no or no further time in jail, Mr. Kaklamanis, the household’s lawyer, mentioned.
Convictions for assault in Greece carry phrases of 5 to fifteen years, although time served is often a lot much less.
Defense attorneys have insisted that Mr. Henderson’s demise was tragic however unintentional. Agamemnon Tatsis, the lawyer for 2 of the Serbs, together with the one who threw the primary punch, mentioned that his shoppers didn’t deserve further sentences. “They’ve paid for what they did,” he mentioned. And he mentioned that Mr. Henderson provoked the assault through the use of a beer bottle in responding to the preliminary blow.
Athanassios Tartis, the lawyer for the Briton, mentioned that his consumer “felt the weight” of his half in the assault however that the deadly blows got here from others.
Violent fights are usually not uncommon in Laganas, a resort that pulls younger vacationers with low cost alcohol and sometimes raucous gatherings. Deaths are unusual although. A British man was stabbed to demise in Laganas in 2011, surprising the island neighborhood.
In latest years, the Greek authorities have sought to crack down on alcohol-fueled offenses in Laganas, whereas making an attempt to maintain the international tourism on which the native financial system relies upon. Last summer time, the authorities launched 24-hour police patrols and restricted visitors on the central highway in Laganas after a spate of violent brawls in the world.
Mrs. Henderson mentioned that she hoped the retrial would deliver the household closure. “The past five years have been exhausting and sometimes overwhelming because it feels like a dark cloud lingering over us,” she mentioned. “The defendants did not show ownership or remorse for their actions which adds salt to our open wounds.”