UK MEP takes up Symeou case

A British member of the European Parliament (MEP) said yesterday that she would contact Prime Minister George Papandreou directly about the ongoing detention of a young Briton, Andrew Symeou, in Korydallos Prison, where he is awaiting trial for alleged manslaughter. Sarah Ludford, an MEP for the Liberal Democrats, said that Symeou, entering his sixth month of pretrial custody in Greece, is wrongly being denied bail and that concerns about the handling of his case have not been investigated properly. «Andrew Symeou’s unjust treatment must come to an end,» said Ludford, who is the Liberal Democrats’ European justice and human rights spokeswoman. «Greek authorities have denied him bail and kept him in prison for the last six months purely because he is a foreigner. This discriminatory treatment offends against European human rights and undermines the principles of measures like the European arrest warrant.» Symeou was arrested at his home in London in June 2008 over the death of 18-year-old Jonathon Hiles in a Zakynthos nightclub in July 2007. Hiles was punched and then hit his head after falling off a dance stage. He died in the hospital two days later. Symeou denies being in the nightclub at the time of the incident and his legal team has raised doubts about the way the Zakynthos police handled the investigation, as key witnesses claimed they were coerced into identifying the Londoner as the main suspect. The 21-year-old was transferred to Greece in July 2009. «I will be delivering a letter to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou demanding not only Andrew’s immediate release on bail pending trial but also a serious investigation into police conduct,» said Ludford. «Defendants must be confident that they will be treated decently and given a fair trial throughout the EU.» Ludford is due to take part in a protest organized by the Justice for Symeou campaign outside the Greek Embassy in London this morning.

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