The family of a 22-year-old Texas man beaten to death in the summer of 2017 on the hooligan-wracked island of Zakynthos testified in the trial of nine men charged in the attack how painful it was to lose their job even as they earlier said they worried there would be no justice.
Bakari Henderson’s father, Phil, told a court in the western Greek city of Patras, the country’s third largest that, “We would hope and pray that no other family go through this,” his hands clasped behind his back, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Behind him sat six defendants charged with first-degree murder but three, who were earlier released fled to Serbia with no explanation why they weren’t detained to face the court other than the charges against them were lesser.
“Our life has changed,” Henderson said. “Bakari was a beautiful young man with a bright, bright future.”
His son, from Austin Texas, was fatally beaten on the street after an altercation with a group of men in a bar in the town Laganas, notorious for drunkenness with authorities looking the other way as tourism is a key source of money for the island.
Security camera footage showed Henderson being drawn into a fight then fleeing down a street before being beaten and kicked by the mob. According to a 55-page indictment, during the final 11 seconds of the early morning beating Henderson received 33 blows and kicks to the head and body.
He had gone to Greece a few months after graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in business, Henderson was in Greece with friends working on a photo shoot for a planned clothing line when he went to a bar with friends and got got into a fight in the bar with Serbians over a photo a woman wanted taken with himn.
A man approached the woman and said, “There are so many Serbs in this bar. Why are you talking to a black guy,” according to the indictment. It said the man then threw a glass at a table in front of the Serbian woman.
When Henderson spoke, the man slapped him. Henderson, according to the indictment, then punched the man and hit him with a beer bottle.
While exiting the bar, Henderson called out to the man and a group of the man’s friends: “Come here, come,” the indictment said.
The group reacted by throwing objects at him, following him and hitting him, including kicks and punches to his head, neck and torso, according to the indictment.
One attacker, a 34-year-old male, hit Henderson with brass knuckles, according to the indictment and security camera videos shown on Greek TV showed him being chased down a sidewalk before being tackled by one man who threw him into a parked car before the pursuing gang beat and stomped him, causing fatal head injuries.
The indictment said the defendants attacked with “murderous intent,” continuing to beat Henderson even after he had fallen to the ground.
One witness, a friend of Henderson’s, testified the friends had chosen the bar purely by chance.
“It’s the first bar on the strip you see. There were people in there and they looked fun,” the witness, who can’t be identified under European privacy laws, told the court.
Henderson’s mother, Jill Henderson, said earlier that that seeing where he died was “definitely something we needed to do to put all this in perspective.”
“It was heartbreaking to see the distance Bakari had run to get anyway from them,” she said.