Korydallos Prison inmates protest hospital conditions

Inmates held in Greece's only prison hospital are refusing food and medication as part of a protest campaign against what they see as dire conditions in the institution.

The hospital in the Korydallos prison complex west of Athens is designed to hold 60 men but currently houses more than 200, rights groups and prison staff said Monday. Many are HIV positive and many others suffer from communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and scabies.

Protesters posted statements on Facebook and Twitter saying at least 178 of the inmates have been refusing prison food for the past week, while those among them who are HIV positive have been refusing to take antiretroviral drugs in an attempt to draw attention to their plight.

Chronically overcrowded, Greek prisons have suffered under an increase in inmate numbers and decrease in staff and funding over the past few years, exacerbated by the country's severe financial crisis. The Korydallos hospital is the only facility inside the penitentiary system where sick inmates can be housed. The institution has seen a dramatic increase in the number of HIV positive inmates, who serve their sentences in the hospital even if they are not otherwise sick. Staff say about 140-150 of those held there are HIV positive.

[Associated Press]