The parents of Bakari Henderson, a Black international traveler who was beaten to death by a mob in Greece in 2017, will be heading back to the European country to see seven of the original nine men accused of killing their son are retried. In 2018, despite the eyes of the world tuning in to see justice, not one of the alleged perpetrators was convicted of murder.
Jill and Phil Henderson are still seeking justice for their son, who would have been 27 years old this year had he not been slain while traveling to Greece for a business trip.
The parents will be returning to the so-called “birthplace of democracy,” after Greek prosecutors ordered a retrial and upgraded murder charges for six of the suspects who were convicted of assault only in the first trial in 2018.
One additional suspect has been added to the lot and will also stand trial for his part in Henderson’s death. The retrial, which is set to start on Feb. 21, was ordered in November 2018 but has been delayed repeatedly since then.
The African-American man was attacked outside of a bar in Lagana resort on the Greek island of Zakynthos in July 2017 by several men. Henderson had flown to the country for a photo shoot for his new clothing line.
An investigation gave an inclination as to what started the fight. Jealousy.
A waitress from the bar told the police that 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?”
A video was released on the beating, showing in graphic details the last moments of the Texas native’s life. The man who asked the woman about “talking to a Black guy,” punches Henderson in the face. The young man did not automatically retaliate, but after he strikes back, he flees. The men run after him.
Outmatched in numbers, they pulverize him with their fists, slam him on a parked car and continue the assault as he falls on the ground. At one point in the recording, some of the members of the mob try to pull others off, but to no avail. Thirty seconds after hitting the ground, Henderson was dead.
His mother struggled to wrap her mind around the motive, “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.”
Local authorities assessed that Henderson died of head trauma.
Nine people were arrested: one Greek citizen, a British man of Serbian origins 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.
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 reports that “The other three men were acquitted. At least four of the men have already been released.”
Reports claim the men celebrated by smiling and hugging each other after the verdict was rendered. The men even exchanged high-fives while still in the presence of the judge, the rest of the court and the family.
Henderson’s parents were there for the trial, sitting behind the accused the entire time and though they were not successful in bringing justice to their son’s legacy, they did not give up hope.
Now, a new trial is set and the parents are pushing through their bereavement to fight.
“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.”
The parents said that after four and a half years, they still have not unpacked his luggage from the trip.
As the family prepares to go to Greece for the fifth time, they have one prayer on their mind. They want the courts to truly see their son.
“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. “I really want them to be able to understand that when they’re doing the sentencing this time.”
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