It was April of 2013, when Greece and the international press were shocked by the news that about thirty migrant workers were shot by the supervisors of the strawberry fields where they had been working in Manolada, Peloponese, after asking for six months’ worth of unpaid wages. More than a year later, at the end of July 2014, the trial of the four farmers involved concluded. Two of them, including the owner of the farm, also charged for human trafficking, were acquitted; two were found guilty of serious bodily harm and abetting serious bodily harm from neglect and received sentences of fourteen years and seven months and eight years and seven months respectively, but were freed pending appeal. In other words, no one is being punished for the shooting of twenty-eight people.
The failure of the Greek judiciary system to provide justice for the Bangladeshi immigrants is reflective of the general failure of the Greek state to protect migrant workers, who have been subjected to inhuman living and working conditions over the years. A lot of them desperate and undocumented are easy prey to the greediness of farmers. Anecdotes of undocumented immigrants being exploited over harvest period and later dismissed with threats and unpaid have been common knowledge for decades. The area of Nea Manolada has a recorded history of abuse of immigrants. A report by Amnesty International in the aftermath of last year’s shootings revealed the extent of labour exploitation endured by the strawberry pickers. More than a year later, nothing has improved. On the contrary, July’s verdict ultimately condoned modern slavery and gave a free pass to Greek farmers to pursue their profits at any human cost.