ATHENS - Hundreds of illegal immigrants being held at a Greek detention centre launched a hunger strike Monday to protest the death of a Pakistani inmate and conditions at the overcrowded camp.

The strike at the centre in Amygdaleza, which is 10 kilometres (6 miles) from Athens, comes after the death of Mohamed Asfak on November 6, who had been held there after making his way to Europe from his native Pakistan.

Asfak had suffered serious respiratory problems for months, though he was only hospitalised as his condition became life threatening, according to Greek anti-racism group Keerfa.  A humanitarian group that works in the camp confirmed Asfak’s death to AFP, though there was no word from officials on how he died.

According to Keerfa, police beat Asfak during a protest at another Greek detention centre in Corinth several months ago and he repeatedly asked for treatment for his injuries, but didn’t receive help until recently.

Migrants groups have repeatedly criticised the overcrowded conditions and lack of infrastructure at the camp in Amygdaleza which was to hold 1,000 immigrants, but is home to double that number.

Greece is one of the key ports of entry into Europe for many thousands of migrants every year. It has frequently been criticised for poor conditions in its detention centres.

Given the wave of immigrants from war-torn countries like Syria and Afghanistan in recent years, Athens has demanded more money from the European Union to handle the influx.

Greece has also called for a revision of the “Dublin Regulation”, which makes the first EU country crossed by immigrants responsible for his or her future asylum applications.