A Pakistani national, Muhammad Gulzar, was killed at the Greek-Turkish border, evidence has emerged that overwhelmingly suggests that the bullet came from across the Greek border.
A new report has found that Greek soldiers were likely responsible for the shooting of a migrant attempting to cross the Greek-Turkish border at the beginning of March 4 and who was later pronounced dead.
The man, Muhammad Gulzar, was one of seven people shot by Greek border forces, who were also using tear gas to repel migrants and asylum seekers from passing through the heavily fortified no man’s land.
The report by Bellingcat, an investigative platform that uses open-source information, raises critical questions about what happened after Turkey announced in late February that it would no longer stop refugees from crossing the border into the EU, resulting in an exodus of migrants.
There were questions surrounding the veracity of official Greek and Turkish accounts of what happened that day, Nick Waters, the author of the report, tells TRT World. “We believed it was important to understand what had happened.”
Turkish authorities shortly after several migrants and asylum seekers were wounded announced that live rounds were used, which led to the death of a man, later identified as Gulzar.
At the time, the Greek government through its spokesperson denied allegations that they had wounded migrants attempting to cross the border.
"The Turkish side creates and disperses fake news targeted against Greece. Today they created yet another such falsehood, with injured people supposedly by Greek fire. I categorically deny it,” said Stelios Petsas.
The Bellingcat investigation using open-source videos captured from that day put together a timeline of where Gulzar was along the border in addition to the other injured migrants. It also managed to confirm by means of his death certificate that he was shot by a 5.56mm bullet.
“Between the sound of the muzzle blast and the sound of the bullet passing the microphone, the shooter must have been close to the camera, around 40-60 meters,” said the report.
In the videos, Greek soldiers can be seen in the distance holding rifles.
“Many of them were armed with M4 and M16 rifles and Minimi light machine guns, all of which fire 5.56mm rounds of the type which allegedly caused Gulzar’s fatal injuries,” the Bellingcat report confirms.
“Despite scores of videos from the Turkish side of the border,” the use of lethal force by Turkish border guards was also ruled out.
Gulzar had lived and worked legally in Greece for more than a decade and had gone to Pakistan to get married and visit sick relatives.
Killed on his way back he has left behind a widow and now lawyers acting on behalf of the family are trying to seek justice and have started proceedings to sue the Greek government.
“They reiterated their statement that deaths and woundings at the border caused by live fire from Greek forces were ‘fake news’,” said Waters when the new report was published by Bellingcat.
Why was there a refugee crisis?
Turkey’s decision to stop the flow of asylum seekers and migrants came after more than 35 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria after the Assad regime, with Russian backing, attacked them.
The Assad regime had begun on the offensive to retake the last opposition stronghold in northwestern Syria in the region of Idlib.
The Russian-backed regime violence resulted in more than a million Syrians moving towards the Turkish border.
Turkey, which hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world said that it would be unable to cope with a new influx of people from Syria and would no longer be able to continue to hold back migrants.
As a result, thousands of migrants within Turkey decide to head to Greece. The onset of the coronavirus outbreak and a ceasefire agreement in Idlib resulted in the crisis dissipating.