Europe

Greek farmers charged with shooting migrants freed

An immigrant cries as he takes part in a demonstration outside court in the city of Patras Image copyright AFP
Image caption Some migrants who had gathered outside the court to hear the verdict were distraught

The owner and head foreman of a farm in Greece have been cleared over the shooting of a group of migrant workers in which 30 were wounded.

The incident occurred in April 2013 when the migrants - mainly from Bangladesh - had gathered to demand unpaid salaries.

Two other foremen were convicted over the shooting but freed pending appeal.

The verdict has been sharply criticised by Greece's largest union and opposition party.

The strawberry farm in question is in Nea Manolada, about 260km (160 miles) west of Athens.

The four charged over the shooting said that they had acted in self-defence when the 200 or so migrant workers who had gathered to ask for their salaries turned hostile.

The migrants' lawyers say they will take the case to European courts.

'Racist exploitation'

Greece's largest union, the GSEE, condemned the verdict.

"To shoot and injure people ... who dared to ask for six months in unpaid wages cannot be described as a mere assault,'' the union said, according to AP, before going on to condemn the "squalid conditions" the workers had been subjected to.

Vassiliki Katrivanou, an MP from the main opposition Syriza party said the verdict "leaves room for new victims and turns a blind eye to the brutal, inhuman racist exploitation of workers".

Nea Manolada had previously been in the spotlight over exploitation of migrants.

In 2008 workers staged a strike against inhumane conditions. There have also been reports of previous attacks.

A social media campaign was launched after last year's shooting to boycott fruit from Nea Manolada, calling them "blood strawberries".

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