17 months of imprisonment for helping a political refugee

Lola Gutierrez, anarchist and Catalan trade unionist of the CGT, was sentenced to 17 months of imprisonment because she tried to help a Kurdish political refugee reunite with his family in 2016.

Dialekti Angeli
Dialekti Angeli NewsMavens, Greece
17 months of imprisonment for helping a political refugee - NewsMavens
Lola Gutierrez. Twitter

Why this story matters:

The Court of Appeals convicted Lola Gutierrez to 17 months of imprisonment with a 3-year suspension. Her crime? Two years ago, she attempted to help a young Kurdish refugee travel from Athens to Barcelona in order to continue his journey to Germany, where his family lives. She used her son's documents, since the young man had no official documents.

The Court of Appeals in Athens recognized the mitigating factors of Lola Gutierrez's alturistic motives, as well as her honesty and subsequent good behavior. The initial charge she was facing was the "facilitation of the expulsion of a national of a third country", which is considered a felony and carries an imprisonment sentence of 5 to 10 years. Changing the charge to a "facilitation attempt" meant she would be sentenced to one to six years.

The wave of support Gutierrez received both inside and beyond the Greek borders played a positive role in the sentencing, as well as the fact that the court and the juvenile prosecutor, who handled the case two years ago, were aware of her integrity and  noble motives.

Lola Gutierrez had said that she knew what she did was illegal, but according to her personal value hierarchy, it was more important to help a young person who wanted to reunite with his family.

Details from the story:

  • Lola Gutierrez has worked as a civil servant in the local government of Barcelona. She handled social policy issues.
  • Gutierrez is also an activist and unionist.
  • The trial was rendered in absentia by the accused, because she has been banned from entering Greece, something that may be re-examined over time.
  • The day of the hearing, dozens people, among them members of the CGT who traveled to Greece to support Gutierrez, were gathered outside the building of the Court of Appeals, reinforcing the message that helping refugees is not a crime.
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