23 August, 2010

This could be you

Andrew Symeou is 20, British and lives in Enfield near London. At least he’s not in Enfield right now, he’s in prison. In Greece.

The story is quickly told: Andrew went on holiday in July 2007 to Zante, a Greek Island. In the early hours of the morning on 20th July a young British man, Jonathan Hiles, was punched in a nightclub called Rescue, fell off a stage and was killed. Mr Symeou says, and this is corroborated by several witnesses, that he was not in the nightclub at the time. Friends of Mr Hiles say that the assailant was tall, blond and clean shaven; Mr Symeou is short, dark and at the time had a beard.

I quote from the report on the case of Fair Trials International:
Zante police interviewed a number of witnesses in connection with Jonathan’s death, including two of Andrew’s friends. According to complaints they made to UK consular officials, police held the men for 8 hours, denying them food and water, and they were beaten, punched, slapped and threatened until they made statements implicating Andrew in Jonathan’s death.

An examination of these statements, which were later withdrawn, reveals them to be recorded word for word. The same police officers were recorded as interviewing different witnesses at the same time, raising further suspicions of evidence fabrication by the police.

These statements also conflict with the voluntary witness statements given to UK police as part of the subsequent coronial inquest into the death Jonathan Hiles. In the Greek version, three men state (word-for-word) they directly witnessed the incident. According to statements made later to UK authorities, the matter was only witnessed by one man who was unable to confirm what the perpetrator looked like.

Anyway, the Greeks issued a European Arrest Warrant and Mr. Symeou was arrested by British Police and sent to Greece. By the time his trial comes round he will have been in prison nearly a year.

There is no law of habeas corpus in Greece or indeed anywhere in Europe. Mr. Symeou was refused bail on the grounds that he wasn’t Greek. Police brutality is the norm in Greece and the prisons are dreadful. The establishment Mr. Symeou is being held in, Korydallos Prison, is where David Daubney was found dead last year. The European Court of Human Rights described conditions there as degrading and inhumane.

Tony Blair it was who allowed British citizens to be dragged away on the say-so of some inhuman regime, probably in return for some concession on something like duck eggs. Would Mr. Cameron have done the same? Will he consider doing something about this disgraceful shambles now?

Yes, and no, are my answers.

We should refuse to implement European Arrest Warrants until the other countries in Europe clean up their act and change their primitive legal systems.

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