Family calls for apology over holiday jail ordeal

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A FAMILY yesterday demanded a formal apology from the Portuguese government after being arrested at gunpoint while on holiday and put into cells because police mistakenly suspected they were drug runners.

The ordeal of Mike de Garis, 37, his wife Sue, 36, and their children Michelle, 12 and Mark, nine, began as they shopped in Albufeira on the Algarve in late July. Plain-clothed police pounced on Mr de Garis, pushed a pistol to his head and frisked him. He was bundled into a car and driven at high speed 50 miles to a police station in Faro. His wife and children were bundled into a second unmarked car.

Mr de Garis, an engineer of Allerton, Bradford, West Yorkshire, wearing only a T-shirt and shorts, was kept in solitary confinement in a tiny cell with a sink and toilet but no bed for 36 hours.

Next day, he was taken before a judge but not told officially why he was arrested. He was not interviewed. Finally, he was released with a terse explanation that he was 'arrested in error'.

As he was leaving the station a policeman told him he had been suspected of being part of an international drugs ring.

Mrs de Garis and the children were freed after spending seven hours in an adjoining cell. She said: 'Mark was screaming for his dad and the police wouldn't let Michelle out to go to the toilet and weren't given anything to eat. We were all petrified.'

Mr de Garis said: 'I want a formal apology from the Portuguese government. It was a nightmare. I was worried sick about my wife and kids.' His MP, Max Madden, has contacted Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary.