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Trial For Beating Death Of Black American In Greece Delayed Again
Bakari Henderson died within 30 seconds after a mob beat him in the street over a selfie he'd taken with a waitress at a bar in Zakynthos.
For the second time this week, the retrial for a group of men accused of beating an American man to death in Greece has been delayed.
Texas native Bakari Henderson, 22, was found dead in front of a Zakynthos bar in 2017, as previously reported. Disturbing surveillance footage captured Henderson’s death after the suspects chased him on foot, encircled him, and beat him to death in under a minute.
Henderson was an aspiring fashion designer and had traveled abroad to promote a new line.
In 2018, nine of the alleged attackers stood trial, according to CBS News. Six of the defendants, all of whom are of Serbian descent, were found guilty on charges of deadly assault. Greek prosecutors found the charges too lenient and refiled murder charges against the men.
A Greek barman was exempt from the retrial after he was sentenced to time served during the initial trial, according to The New York Times. As Henderson’s family waited in the Patras courtroom upon traveling from America, the presiding judge granted the defense’s motion for a continuance when they learned witnesses were unable to attend the proceedings.
The delay comes days after the defense’s request for a continuance was granted on the grounds that an attorney was not present in court.
Wednesday’s adjournment is the latest after several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other legal obstacles, according to the New York Times. Relatives of the college graduate publicly voiced their frustrations that justice had not been found five years after Henderson’s murder.
“I was hoping that we could move forward,” Henderson’s father, Phil Henderson, said outside the Patras courthouse. “We’re going to have to wait for justice.”
Phil Henderson previously testified that nobody called authorities to help his son as he was beaten in the street. Greek authorities said Henderson was attacked after taking a selfie with a waitress at the bar.
“They left him bleeding on the street and went back to the bar like nothing happened,” Phil Henderson said on the stand.
The female server who posed for the selfie with Henderson indicated the attack was racially motivated, according to the New York Times. She testified that a man questioned why she would take a photo with Henderson, who was Black, when there were so many “Serbs” in the establishment.
Andreas Patsis, a Greek lawyer representing the Henderson family, also pointed to racial discrimination behind the attack, according to Greek City Times.
“There are already hints of strong anti-American sentiment among the Serbians involved,” said Patsis. “Despite there being no provocation, the Serbs attacked Bakari and focused only on him, an African American.”
Things became physical when one of the men punched Henderson in the face, as captured on a disturbing video. Henderson then hit the man in the head with a beer bottle, as supported by the waitress’s testimony.
Surveillance footage later showed a group of men chasing Henderson in the street before shoving him into a parked car. Henderson fell on the ground before the men kicked and beat him to death.
A Greek spokesperson stated Henderson was dead within 30 seconds of the attack, according to the New York Times.
“Somebody getting beaten to death over a selfie? It just makes no sense,” Henderson’s mother, Jill, said in a CBS News interview. “It’s very hard to imagine that people would have that much hate to do something [like that] to another human being.”
Of the nine men initially charged in 2018, six were sentenced, the New York Times reported. Five of those men were released after time served (which is typical in accordance with laws in Greece), while another was sentenced to 15 years.
Calls then began for a retrial, according to the New York Times. Although double jeopardy applies in Greece, it can only be attached once the verdict is final (because the prosecutor appealed the original ruling, the verdict was open to a new trial).
“They’ve paid for what they did,” said attorney Agamemnon Tatsis, who is representing two of the defendants.
“The past five years have been exhausting and sometimes overwhelming because it feels like a dark cloud lingering over us,” said Jill Henderson. The defendants did not show ownership or remorse for their actions, which adds salt to our open wounds.”
A new hearing is scheduled for March 11.