Back in Greece, sailor is freed

Six days after Egypt allowed a convicted Greek sailor to serve the rest of his life sentence for drug smuggling in his homeland, an Athens court yesterday set the man free. Costas Kastanias, who has already served 15 years of hard labor in Egyptian prisons, is expected to be released today following the misdemeanor court’s ruling. The court accepted that the seaman’s life sentence could be commuted to a 15-year sentence under Greek law, which provides for 10-20 year penalties for smuggling drugs into the country. Kastanias was arrested in 1989 in Suez, along with another two Greek sailors, and convicted of smuggling 7.5 tons of cannabis aboard the Thanassis motorship. All three were initially sentenced to death, but, following international pressure, received life terms. One of his fellow convicts died in an Egyptian prison, while the second expired in a Greek penitentiary one month after being sent home because of his health. Egypt allowed Kastanias’s return to Greece on the eve of a state visit by PM Costas Karamanlis.