Return of sailor after 15 years

A Greek sailor who has served 15 years of a life sentence for drug trafficking in an Egyptian jail is to return to Greece to serve the rest of his term after a decision by the Arab state’s Justice Ministry yesterday, just as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was due to arrive in the country for an official visit. Constantinos Kastanias and another two sailors were arrested in Suez in 1989 and found guilty of smuggling 7.5 tons of cannabis aboard a motorship. The men were originally given the death sentence which, after international pressure, was commuted to life imprisonment. Both of Kastanias’s companions have since died – one in a Greek jail, just a month after being sent back for health reasons, and the other in the Egyptian prison, where conditions have been described as «medieval.» Synaspismos Left Coalition MEP Alekos Alavanos, who took part in a protest rally with Kastanias’s relatives outside Greece’s Parliament earlier this month, said he hoped the sailor would be brought back to Greece on the prime ministerial jet when Karamanlis completes his three-day visit to Egypt.