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Dawood is free, after spending a year and half in custody. Greece had no jurisdiction to prosecute him

Updated: Jan 22

[Article update 22/01/2024] On January 22nd, HRLP Lawyers Dimitris Choulis and Alexandros Georgoulis represented Dawood before the Three-member Court of Criminal Appeals of Eastern Crete. Dawood is a 22 years old Lebanese national imprisoned for more than a year and a half in Greece after his arrest in September 2022. Dawood fled Lebanon and, in his search for safety, became yet another victim of the Greek authorities’ policy of criminalization of people on the move. The Court accepted the lawyers’ arguments that Greece was not competent to prosecute Dawood.   

Dawood is a 22 years old Lebanese national. In August 2022, Dawood and his wife Nadia, who was pregnant at the time, fled Lebanon and embarked on a boat heading towards Italy. 

After about 6 days in the sea, the engine of the boat broke down. At this point, food and water were already scarce on the boat. The supplies were run by the captain of the boat. In order to ensure that Nadia would get access to food and water, the defendant tried his best to have a good relationship with the captain and started to help him to remove water from the boat so that it wouldn’t sink. 

In total, the boat spent 14 days in the sea before being rescued. Passengers were forced to drink sea water and were in a critical condition. 

At the time of the rescue, the boat was in the Maltese search and rescue zone. The passengers were rescued by a Maltese boat that took them to Heraklion, on the Greek island of Crete, despite the boat being in Maltese water at the time of the rescue operation. Two people died during the operation because they fell in the sea and drowned. Additionally, one pregnant woman had a miscarriage. 

On September 7th 2022, almost immediately after the rescue, Dawood was arrested and has since then been detained at the Agia Chania prison, in Crete, pursuant to a warrant of temporary detention issued by the Investigator of the First Criminal Division of Heraklion. There were a total of 10 people arrested, including 3 minors, whose trials will take place in front of another court. 

Dawood is charged under article 30 paragraph 1 (b), (c) and (d) of Law 4251/2014 with forming or joining, with intent, a criminal organization to illegally transport third countries nationals to Greece, for profit, in a way that is dangerous and which resulted in two deaths and the miscarriage of one pregnant woman. He is also charged with illegal entry into the Greek territory under article 50 of Law 2910/2001. He faces 55 life sentences. 

Dawood is pre-detained, which means that, while he has not been found guilty of the crimes he is accused of, he is waiting for the trial in prison. Since his arrest in September 2022, his trial has been postponed 6 times. 

His case was first scheduled to be heard by the Three-member Court of Criminal Appeals of Eastern Crete, in Heraklion, on the 6th of March 2023. The first hearing was postponed because the state lawyers were on strike. It was then scheduled on the 26th of June but was postponed, by law, due to the general elections taking place in Greece at the same time. It was scheduled again on the 19 of July, but once again it was postponed because of the state lawyers strike. The trial was then scheduled on the 2nd of October, 2023 but postponed again. 

By January 22nd,the next trial date, Dawood will have spent a year and a half in prison despite not being convicted. Dawood, never participated in any way in the facilitation of illegal entry of third country nationals and another man was identified as the captain of the boat by all the passengers of the boat. 

Furthermore, as the rescue operation took place in Maltese waters, according to international law, Greek authorities do not have jurisdiction to prosecute Dawood. HRLP lawyers Dimitris Choulis and Alexandros Georgoulis recently used the same legal argument in the case of Chelik Memet. Chelik had already spent more than 2 years in prison when the Court found that Greece had no jurisdiction to prosecute him. We hope that the Three-member Court of Criminal Appeals of Eastern Crete will reach the same conclusion. 

Since his arrest, Dawood and Nadia became parents. Nadia gave birth to their daughter Khadija, in January 2023, while Dawood was in prison in Crete. The mother and baby are hosted in the Home project, in Athens, and are followed by social workers. The lawyer, Alexandros Georgoulis, has managed to arrange weekly Skype meetings between the defendant and his wife and baby. In addition, Nadia traveled to Crete for the trial scheduled on the 19th of July 2023, and Dawood was therefore finally able to meet his baby. 

We hope that Dawood will finally be able to leave prison after 22 January and be reunited with his family.

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