Plane-spotters await bail money return

EURO MP Geoffrey Van Orden is pressing the Greek authorities to return £9,000 bail money to each of 14 planespotters acquitted of spying charges more than four months ago.

EURO MP Geoffrey Van Orden is pressing the Greek authorities to return £9,000 bail money to each of 14 planespotters acquitted of spying charges more than four months ago.

The MEP has raised the case of the planespotters - including Paul and Lesley Coppin, from Mildenhall - in the European Parliament and is in touch with the Greek authorities to try and resolve the matter.

Mr Van Orden said: "I went out to visit Lesley Coppin when she was first incarcerated in the Central Women's Prison in Athens in November 2001.

"The planespotters should never have been arrested in the first place. It took a year to reach their final acquittal. But the anxiety and indignities that they have suffered have been compounded by financial loss.


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"It is outrageous that they are still waiting for return of their bail money some four months after their acquittal. We are talking about £9,000 each and this is a lot of money, adding to their financial hardship. The receipt of the bail money will mark closure on this long ordeal for the plane spotters and their families.

"I have therefore raised this matter on the floor of the European Parliament and am now in contact with senior Greek Government representatives."

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The planespotters were arrested in November 2001 at an airshow at Kalamata during a holiday organised by Mr Coppin, who ran a planespotting tour company. They were held in jail for some weeks before being convicted of charges relating to spying at a trial in April 2002. They were finally cleared at an appeal in November last year.

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