ATHENS – Asking for justice after nine men seen on a videotape beating their son to death on the island of Zakynthos in 2017 weren’t convicted of murder, the parents of an American businessman returned for their retrial, ordered by a prosecutor upset with the verdicts.
Bakari Henderson, then 22, was also in Greece to promote a line of clothing and was savagely attacked by a group of men, mostly Serbians, who objected to him taking a selfie photo with a waitress in a bar. He was an African-American.
After an altercation in the club on the island notorious for hooliganism, violence and wild partying, he was chased into the street, shoved against a ar and stomped to death in 20 seconds, caught on video.
His parents, Phil and Jill, said they are hoping that a retrial will bring justice after the first saw six of the attackers convicted only of assault. A seventh suspect has since been added in retrial delayed 3 ½ years.
A waitress from the bar told the police the fight happened after she asked Bakari for a selfie. One of the Serbian men approached her and said, “There are a lot of Serbs in the bar. Why are you talking to a Black guy?”
The man who asked the woman about “talking to a Black guy,” punched Henderson in the face and after hesitating, he hit back and ran, reported The Atlanta Black Star.
They caught up to him on a street and pummeled him repeatedly before bystanders tried to break it up, the video showing one person apparently trying to resucitate him.
His mother said she still can’t understand it. “Somebody getting beaten to death? Over a selfie? It just makes no sense. It’s very hard to imagine that people would have that much hate to do something to another human being.”
Nine people were arrested: one Greek, a British man of Serbian origin and seven other Serbs. The Greek police released three of the men days after the killing, leaving five, ranging in age from 18 to 34 years old, in custody.
During the murder trial in 2018, nine of the attackers were found not guilty of killing Henderson despite the video showing them doing that, no explanation given for the verdict.
Six of the nine, originally charged with intentional homicide, which carries a life sentence in the country, were convicted of the lesser charge of assault. The British citizen was sentenced up to 15 years in prison, the harshest punishment of them all “for causing grievous bodily harm.”
One of the Serbs was sentenced to 10 years. Three of the Serbs were sentenced to seven years and the remaining received five years. CBS reported that “The other three men were acquitted. At least four of the men have already been released.”
“It’s been a lot of highs, but mostly lows, trying to process the grief,” Jill Henderson told Gayle King in an interview for CBS News. “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.”
They’ve come back a fifth time and hope those acquitted of the killing will now be found guilty.
“I just truly hope this time that they really view Bakari as a child of God and the human that he is … as someone that could be their brother, their son, their grandson, their nephew, their friend,” the mother stated.
She added: “I really want them to be able to understand that when they’re doing the sentencing this time.”