ATHENS – A Texas couple whose son was beaten to death by a mob on the island of Zakynthos in 2017 are returning to Greece for a retrial of the attackers, who were cleared of the murder, convicted only of assault.
Bakari Henderson was attacked because he was black and the gang was infuriated that a woman in a bar on the island that’s notorious for violence asked him to take a selfie photograph with her.
Henderson, 22, was on a business trip to promote a line of clothing that now has become popular online after his death that was captured on surveillance video but the attackers nevertheless getting away with murder, his parents said.
His parents, Jill and Phil Henderson, sat down with CBS Mornings co-host Gayle King to discuss their fight for justice. “It’s been a lot of highs, but mostly lows, trying to process the grief,” Jill Henderson said. “I would say the hardest thing has been feeling like I’m not always doing the best that I can by my other two children… because I spend so much time focused on Bakari, and the retrial, and just trying to keep his legacy alive because I miss him so much.”
Phil Henderson said, “There’s something [that] happens every day that makes me think about him,” but they remain frustrated by what they said is a lack of justice in the case and how it’s been handled by Greek authorities.
The woman said a Serbian customer nearby then told her, “There are a lot of Serbs in the bar. Why are you talking to a Black guy?” The video showed a man hitting Henderson in the face as the American fought back and then ran.
The mob then chased him down the street, beating him against a car, and then on the ground, killing him in less than 30 seconds, witnessed by people dining and on the streets in the popular summer hangout.
“Somebody getting beaten to death? Over a selfie? It just makes no sense,” Jill Henderson said. “It’s very hard to imagine that people would have that much hate to do something to another human being.”
Six of nine suspects charged with intentional homicide, which carries a life sentence in Greece, were found guilty of the lesser assault charge.
The attackers — five Serbians and a British man of Serbian descent — faced between five and 15 years in prison. The other three men were acquitted. At least four of the men have already been released.
“You should not be able to chase down a man and then beat him to death and then not go to jail and serve jail time,” Jill Henderson said after the 2018 trial.
The grieving parents were also present for the first trial, which was all in Greek.
“It was eye-opening because it was so different,” Jill Henderson said, adding that the language barrier adds to the stress of the case.
“And even though you can’t understand what’s being said, both of you still feel it’s very important for you to be there in person?” King asked.
Jill Henderson said the men were even allowed to hug and kiss their families during breaks in the courtroom.
“And I’m like, ‘Really? You’re doing that in front of us? And we’ll never get to do that with our son?'” she said. “It just felt like there was just no real respect for the fact that we were there, grieving.”
“I don’t think they view us Black people the same as they do white people over there,” his father, Phil Henderson told CBS. “And I felt that in the trial and in the results of the trial, that they treated and felt like he was less than a man.”