Greece 'still owes planespotters cash'

TWO Suffolk planespotters acquitted of spying in Greece a year ago have criticised the Greek judicial authorities after it failed to return £120,000 bail money.

TWO Suffolk planespotters acquitted of spying in Greece a year ago have criticised the Greek judicial authorities after it failed to return £120,000 bail money.

Lesley and Paul Coppin, of Mildenhall, have received the backing of Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East Region, who called on the Greek courts to release the money immediately.

Mrs Coppin said: "We are extremely disappointed and annoyed to hear the decision and that an EU country can allow their legal system to work like this.

"I don't want to hear anything about Greece until they drag their judicial system into the 21st century."


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It is believed the 12 British planespotters, who come from various parts of Britain, are owed £10,000 each from the courts.

They were arrested near a Greek airbase two years ago while on an organised planespotting trip. They walked free from court a year later after being cleared by a Greek court.

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Mr Howitt said: "Basically they should have been given the money as they walked out of court. It's their money and they were acquitted.

"Apparently under the Greek judicial system their defence lawyers have to agree to the money being released and this hasn't been done because of some disagreement over fees the lawyers say they are owed.

"But none of this should have anything to do with the bail money. That is kept by the court and should be returned to the planespotters because it is their money.

"I'm making a direct appeal to the Greek judicial authorities to return the money now and draw a line under this.

"It is two years since they were arrested and a year since they were acquitted. These are not rich people it is money they can ill afford to lose. They have given up any hope of getting back the interest. They just want the £10,000 they paid in.

"Sadly it is yet another example of the way the Greek judicial system works. I have become very cynical about it. It is Byzantine."

After their acquittal, Mr and Mrs Copping called for higher minimum judicial standards across Europe.

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