Death of prison inmate stokes tension

The death of a prisoner in northern Greece yesterday, apparently from drugs, fueled tensions as thousands of inmates in jails across the country continued a hunger strike in protest at detention conditions. Authorities at the Grevena jail found the body of 32-year-old Nikolaos Bardakis early yesterday morning in a reception area of the jail. They said a bag of drugs was found in his possession. An organization representing protesting prisoners claimed that the 32-year-old had been on a hunger strike. The Justice Ministry rebuffed the claim, issuing a statement saying: «There have been no prisoner deaths resulting from the hunger strike.» The deceased inmate «had been a drug user and had refused a urine test the night before,» the ministry added. It is thought that the 32-year-old, serving time for drug-related crimes and theft, may have tried to smuggle the bag of drugs into the jail with him upon his return from a prison in Patras where he had been transferred to attend a trial. Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis earlier this week pledged to push through a bold two-phase reform program to improve prison conditions by easing overcrowding and introducing a methadone program for heroin addicts.