forensic-architecture.org | 6 March 2023
Fire in Moria Refugee Camp
In the late hours of 8 September 2020, large fires broke out at the migrant camp of Moria in Lesvos, Greece, displacing thousands of people and reducing the epicentre of the EU’s carceral archipelago to ashes. The overcrowded camp, first established in 2013, was host to more than 13,000 people at the time, and was notorious for its precarious and unsafe living conditions.
Only a few days after the fire, police arrested six young asylum seekers, five of them minors, accusing them of starting the fire. They became known as the #Moria6 and five of the six were convicted of arson based on the testimony of a single witness who never appeared in court, in trials that were described as a ‘parody of justice’.
Commissioned by lawyers representing the Moria 6, Forensic Architecture and Forensis worked in collaboration with ReFOCUS Media Labs to map how the fire developed and to interrogate the testimony of the key witness in advance of the appeal trial scheduled for March 2023. We sourced and examined testimonies, official reports, high-resolution drone footage, and hundreds of videos and images taken by migrants themselves, to conduct a detailed spatio-temporal reconstruction of the spread of the fire through the camp. Our analysis reveals significant inconsistencies in the testimony of the key witness and casts further doubt as to the legitimacy of the evidence upon which the conviction of the young asylum seekers was based.