Noor al-Samah, a young man from Syria, is being held in a Greek prison after he was sentenced to 300 years imprisonment for smuggling and human trafficking. Samah has denied participating in any smuggling or human trafficking, claiming that he was convicted without evidence.
Born in the city of Salamiyah (Hama), Samah had just finished his degree in public administration. To avoid his mandatory military service and the war in Syria, he decided to escape to Turkey.
When he arrived there, he spent several days without shelter and struggled to find work that would enable him to achieve his dream of a new life. He subsequently decided to continue to Greece.
Speaking to Zaman al-Wasl, Samah explained that he was set up by the smugglers. He said that because he speaks fluent English, the smugglers let him travel for free if he agreed to call the coast guards for help if the boat encountered trouble en route to Greece. The boat broke down in the middle of the sea and fearing for the lives of those aboard, Samah called the coast guard for help and a boat passing in Greek territorial waters responded to their SOS call.
After they arrived in Greece, the coast guard searched all the passengers and arrested the Turkish smuggler and Samah.
They beat the Turkish smuggler, insulted and cursed him and they blindfolded Samah and took them both a local police station. Samah explained that the smuggler was let go after a short period because he had money on him, but the police continued to hold the Syrian because he had no money to pay for his release. His lack of financial means also affected his trial.
Samah’s case went to court where he was sentenced to over 300 years imprisonment, his state-appointed lawyer explained to him. He said that he did not receive a proper defense because he had no money to pay the lawyer, who left Samah’s fate to the unknown.
He said he will take his case to an appeals court in Greece to fight the sentence and challenge the ruling. He added that his that his parents do not know that he received such a long sentence.
Samah explained that he tried to reach out to the public through various human rights organizations, institutions, and local and regional networks that deal with human rights issues, but he has not received any response or support for his case.
In his final words to Zaman al-Wasl, Samah revealed that he met many prisoners who had been charged for similar offenses during his stay in various prisons in Greece. He added that some of those who have been charged spent more than eight years behind bars without any concrete evidence against them.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.