How does an in­no­cent man be­come a robber?

iD magazine - - Body & Mind -

Male, 20 to 25 years old, dark com­plex­ion, pos­si­bly Moroc­can, 6 foot 2 inches tall, wavy hair reach­ing down to his ears— this is how wit­nesses de­scribe the per­pe­tra­tor of a rob­bery at a su­per­mar­ket in the Ger­man town of Eschborn. The de­scrip­tion doesn’t ap­ply to Chris­tos Or­fani­dis at all: He is only 5 foot 7 inches tall, and he has fair skin and short straight hair. And yet Or­fani­dis is sen­tenced to two years and three months in prison for ag­gra­vated rob­bery. The rea­son? The wit­nesses agree: That’s him! “The way he stares, the ap­pear­ance, the hair­cut— and that’s how he looked at me, too,” they con­firm. Even when po­lice later ar­rest an­other sus­pect (Hakki S.), who fits the per­pe­tra­tor de­scrip­tion al­most ex­actly, the wit­nesses main­tain the ac­cu­sa­tion. And that’s not all: They sub­se­quently ad­just the per­pe­tra­tor de­scrip­tion to match Or­fani­dis. It’s not mal­ice— they are vic­tims too: Their mem­ory has re­placed the real cul­prit with Or­fani­dis. Only in the third trial is he re­leased due to a lack of ev­i­dence— de­spite wit­ness state­ments.

Chris­tos Or­fani­dis

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