LETTERS / Help for Britons in jail abroad

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The Independent Online
From Ms Carol Green Sir: Heather Mills article "Britons' plight in foreign jails" (12 December) struck a bitter chord for me. I have a friend who has been left to suffer in the Greek prison system for 10 years. I am only just beginning to perceive the true nightmare, highli ghted by Roger Matthews's study of the "aloneness" of British prisoners who do not have the support of embassy and consular staff. They are in a totally alien situation with no common standards or values to rely on, life is cheap andthere are language d ifficulties - my friend has no translator at his "trial".

The most recent blow for him was when the long-awaited appeal date finally arrived on 5 December. It was postponed -and that means for an indefinite number of months. This time the Greek judicial system could not be blamed - the reason for the postponement was that the judge needed certain things verified by the consul. The consul had not thought it necessary to be there. It was very necessary.

Just one man's crushing disappointment, with his loved ones still waiting at home to share Christmas with him. Where are these consuls going to undertake to really support these vulnerable, helpless people? Perhaps it's not one of their most pleasant duties but it's one needing compassion and understanding, not faceless, uncaring bureaucracy.

Yours faithfully, CAROL GREEN Salisbury, Wiltshire 12 December