In a decision finalised in March 2023, the Kos Criminal Court acquitted a Cameroonian national who was charged of possession and use of fraudulent travel documents. The defendant was apprehended at the airport of Kos while attempting to board an international flight using a stolen passport and a forged identity document. She was charged with possession and use of fraudulent or stolen travel documents, as well as for exiting Greece without possessing the necessary legal documentation. The defendant relied on the defence of necessity, explaining that she had been taken hostage by a criminal gang involved in trafficking networks. As a result, she was unable to renew her asylum identity card and her stay in Greece had been rendered unlawful through no fault of her own. She managed to escape and sought the fraudulent documents in order to leave the country and protect herself from the traffickers.

The Court referred to the national and international framework on the protection of victims of trafficking, in particular regarding the effect of the official recognition of a person as a victim of trafficking on pending criminal procedures. The judge noted that the defendant had been recognised as a victim of trafficking by an earlier prosecutorial order and stated that the criminal acts were committed in order to escape an imminent and unavoidable danger. The defendant was acquitted of all charges.

Many thanks to HIAS Greece for bringing this case to our attention