NEWS

Cash delay keeps plane buffs in jail

Despite having been allowed out of pretrial detention on bail on Wednesday, 14 British and Dutch plane-spotters held on charges of espionage since November 8 spent their 36th night in custody yesterday as their bail was not paid in time. All but two of the 12 Britons and both of the Dutch nationals held in prison at Nafplion and Korydallos, western Athens, had raised the 5 million drachmas required for each plane-spotter’s release by late yesterday. However, it proved impossible to get the money quickly enough to the southern Peloponnesian town of Kalamata – where they had been arrested for allegedly taking photographs at the local military airport on an open day, and where a panel of judges agreed on their release on bail. This was made possible after the charges against them were reduced from criminal to misdemeanor level. The group’s plight caused a flurry of reactions in the UK, ranging from Prime Minister Tony Blair raising the matter with Greek PM Costas Simitis to the Daily Mail tabloid telling its readers to boycott Greek products. Kaklamanis told Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis that both the constitution and parliamentary regulations forbid last-minute submissions of irrelevant amendments during legislative debates without the assent of the opposition.