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live Supervisors at the strawberry greenhouses on the Peloponnese shoot at immigrants

18 April 2013 / 13:04:19  GRReporter
5172 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova
Eight immigrants were seriously injured by the fire, which the supervisors at the strawberry greenhouses near ​​Nea Manolada in the area of Ilia opened on them last night. The shooting at the immigrants began when they refused to return to the greenhouses if they were not paid their wages for the past six months of work. The peculiar protest involved about 200 workers, the majority of them being citizens of Bangladesh and a small number - of Pakistan.

According to sources, at least one of the three supervisors who are Greeks fired at the workers with a shotgun. According to the police, he injured eight people seriously and another twenty slightly. Local journalists say that in total 34 injured people were taken to the medical centre in the village of Varda and the hospitals in Pyrgos and Patras.

The local police have found and arrested the employer who has been accused of instigation.

The three attackers are still being sought. They are residents of the region and the police know their names. The authorities believe that they are hiding to avoid being arrested within the statutory period for starting fast track legal proceedings against them. The case is already under investigation.

The online edition of Kathimerini newspaper presented a video filmed shortly after the ceasefire.

GRReporter contacted for more information the correspondent of the Greek public broadcaster ERT in the area of Ilia, George Marinopoulos. According to him, 33 people were injured, six of them very seriously.

"The immigrants told me that they had scheduled a meeting with their employer to pay them outstanding wages for six months. They said that the total outstanding amount was 150 - 200,000 euro. The employer never showed up. Three supervisors and two drivers arrived instead. They had with them a gun and two shotguns. They told the immigrants that they would not get any money and that they should leave because they had hired others in their place. When one of the workers responded, one of the supervisors fired in the air to scare them and the other two supervisors aimed the guns at the immigrants."

The journalist stresses that the majority of immigrants have documents to legally reside in Greece. "We cannot exclude the possibility of some of them being undocumented and, therefore, scared to seek medical help."

The police seized the owner of the strawberry greenhouses, who felt ill immediately after the arrest and was taken to hospital where his stay continues under police supervision. According to the journalist, he was unfair to last year's workers as he paid them by cheque. When they went to the bank to cash it, it bounced.

A day after the bloody attack, TV cameras revealed the tragic living conditions of the workers. They are living near the greenhouses in handmade huts. "The quality of the water we drink is not good and the food is not enough," another worker from Bangladesh said before the camera of SKAI TV.

The shooting at immigrants in Nea Manolada has provoked strong reactions on social media, where there are mass calls for a boycott against the strawberry growers in the region.

The developments in Nea Manolada prove the rumour that has been circulating in the public domain for years: Some employers hire workers, then refuse to pay them, taking advantage of the fact that they have no documents to legally reside and work in Greece.
However, this is not the first case. In 2008, seasonal workers in strawberry fields from Bulgaria and other countries opposed the low pay and their protested sparked media interest. In an attempt to make a report on the conditions of life and work in one of the camps where about 400 Bulgarians lived, a journalist and a photographer from To Vima newspaper were attacked and beaten by the supervisors. Some immigrant workers tried to talk to the journalists about the severe conditions, the low pay, the fact that the employer did not pay social security and added that they worked and lived in constant fear.

During the conversation, one of the supervisors, who was a Bulgarian too, intervened and told the journalist and photographer to leave the area. They did not oppose and got in the car, but the supervisor began to throw stones at them, shouting "thieves." A little later, a few people began chasing them with cars and motorcycles. The jeep of the owner of the strawberry fields swept the journalist's car due to which the two men were injured. Then, the owner and his associates got out of their cars, cursed the journalist, beat the photographer and took his camera.

Later, under the threat that he would be indicted with larceny, the owner returned the camera and the card with the photos. At the same time, he filed a complaint against the media representatives, accusing them of assault and damage to property of others.

Other journalists and photographers have been victims of mistreatment and intimidation in the past too but despite the reports, the situation seems not to have changed.

Tags: Crime newsShootingImmigrantsStrawberry greenhousesNea Manolada
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