One year after the brutal murder of 22-year-old US national, Bakari Henderson, outside a bar on the island of Zakynthos, his family still awaits justice. Henderson from Austin, Texas, had just graduated from college and hes was spending vacations on the island in the Ionian Sea together with friends. On July 7th 2017, a dispute in a bar in Laganas resort ended that Bakari Henderson was brutally beaten and died in front of his friends.
On Henderson’ death anniversary, his mother in Austin said he was targeted because of his race. “I hate to assume,” Jill Henderson told usatoday “but it felt like it started as anti-American and then escalated into a hate crime because he was African-American.
“But, of course, we have to hear what they (the defendants) say about it,” she said.
Henderson, a graduate of the University of Arizona, died in the Greek resort town of Laganas, popular with Serbian and British tourists. According to an indictment obtained by USA TODAY, Henderson became embroiled in an altercation in a bar when a Serbian woman took a selfie with him and his friend.
A male patron 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 talked back, the man slapped him. Henderson reacted by punching him and hitting 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, then followed him and assaulted him with 33 blows, 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.
The Greek coroner concluded that Henderson died from brain injuries when struck by an object.
Eight defendants in the case are slated to stand trial Sept. 21. European privacy laws protect them from being publicly identified.
Henderson’s family plans to travel to the southern Greek city of Patras, where the trial will take place. The defendants face charges of first-degree murder, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Andreas Patsis, a Greek lawyer retained by the Henderson family, said the trial should reveal the motive behind the killing. “There are already hints of strong anti-Americanism sentiment among the Serbians involved,” Patsis said. “Despite how there was no provocation, the Serbs attacked Bakari and focused only on him, who was an African-American.”
Henderson’s family has created a foundation in his honor “to help families similar to ours that lost loved ones in a tragic situation,” is mother said. The foundation provides families with travel expenses, helps them with counseling services, legal fees.