Walid Tabeb, the undocumented migrant who was abducted and tortured by his baker employer and three accomplices in an 18-hour ordeal on November 3, will not be deported from Greece to his native Egypt, the Greek police announced on December 4.
In a statement, issued exactly one month after Walid’s ordeal at the hands of his captors, the police said that at the recommendation of the public order minister, Nikos Dendias, it had decided “for humanitarian reasons not to initiate deportation proceedings” against him.
The brief statement read:
The leadership of the Greek Police announces that, following a proposal from the minister for public order and citizen protection, Mr Nikolaos Dendias, it has decided for humanitarian reasons not to take any deportation proceedings against an Egyptian national who recently fell victim to abuse and torture at Salamina.
Initially, the police had told Walid that, as he was an illegal immigrant, he had 30 days to leave Greece. Indeed, for four days after his ordeal, he was detained in a police cell, without access to medical treatment. He was hospitalised after his release from police custody.
Human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, have repeatedly criticised the police for treating the victims of racist crimes as a guilty party. Reports have found that police regularly refuse to record reports of racists attacks from victims and even arrest those who attempt to report incidents.
The groups say this has left the victims of racist attacks too terrified to approach the police in Greece.
One wonders why it took Dendias and the police exactly one month to reach this decision. Undoubtedly, it had something to do with the recent visit of United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, which ended on December 3.
Crépeau, who met Dendias the day before the police statement was issued, had this to say about the link between the police and racist attacks in his preliminary report on his nine-day fact-finding mission:
I am deeply concerned about the widespread xenophobic violence and attacks against migrants in Greece, and I strongly condemn the inadequate response by the law enforcement agencies to curb this violence, and to punish those responsible. I have also been informed of several cases of police involvement in these attacks. Many of these cases go unreported as irregular migrants fear they will be detained and deported if they contact the police.
When I spoke to Crépeau on December 3, he said he was aware that there was a development in the case.
It’s also important to point out that this is the first official police statement on Walid’s case. The police’s press office issued no press releases after he was found beaten black and blue on a road in Salamina on November 4.
When I asked an officer in the press office why no statement appeared, I was told that “we don’t put everything up on the website” and that by the time the police had worked out the facts of the case, it was old news!
A more likely excuse was that the police could not issue a statement on the case as the victim – and not the perpetrators – was in police custody.
On the day he was found, the police press office found the time to publish statements on the “arrest of an alien for pickpocketing from elderly passengers on buses” and “arrest of two aliens for theft from minors”.
My attempts to seek written answers from the police on why Walid was detained after his ordeal were stonewalled, with the press office claiming that it could not comment on the case as it was before the courts.