5. A blurred two weeks Pt.1

28th February 2012

Hey all, we got the translated appeal report yesterday and have forwarded it to Fair Trials with our detailed request for assistance. My younger brother, Sam is home too and we have spent the past few hours preparing a document to upload to the facts page which should be finished tomorrow so watch out for that.

Ok back to September 2010. From the minute I landed in Crete on Saturday the 18th until Saturday the 1st of October, when my mother had to practically drag me kicking and screaming onto the plane, it was like we had been plucked from our real lives and dropped into the middle of an old style mafia movie. We met with 3 different lawyers several times everyday while liaising with another in Athens, Marks present lawyer. Emotionally I went from hysterical to numb to aggravated to irate to desperate to somber within a matter of minutes and without warning. We spent three days of literally driving in circles between Heraklion and Hersonisos collecting documents etc.

I visited Mark for the first time on Sunday evening at 5pm. I was escorted by a female lawyer to a small cubicle where I waited for Mark to appear on the other side of the glass. For as long as I live I’ll never forget the image of my husband walking into that cubicle. He looked like half the man I had kissed goodbye to at the airport only 8 days previous. He had only been detained 3 days at this stage but already looked as though he had lost weight. His hands, arms, legs and face were dirty as he did not have access to any shower facilities. But the most shocking thing to hit me was his eyes. I couldn’t find Mark in them. I couldn’t find my strong, lovable, fun loving, sociable, caring, kind, generous husband in them. They were filled with terror and confusion. Physically the whites of his eyes were unrecognizable and bloodshot from burst blood vessels. His wrists and face was all cut and bruised. He showed me bruises on the backs of his legs and back where he claimed he was hit wit a leather strap. There were several large round bruises circling his neck which he told me was from the “electric” ie the tazer. He told me at one point he had fallen to the floor after the tazer and he lay very still. He thought that if he pretended to be dead they would stop. At this point, while immobilized on the floor he heard the men present laugh, “he is almost dead now, just leave him”.  This visit lasted about 10 minutes before a police officer banged on the door for Mark to leave. After handing over Marks clean clothes and taking his dirty ones I left to meet my mother and brother who were waiting outside for me. When I got home and opened the bag of clothes to do Mark’s washing, I was met again with the reality of what had happened to my husband. I pulled out his favorite pair of Green check knee shorts and they were covered in blood. As I broke down in tears my mother grab the clothes off me and threw them all into the washing machine, in an attempt to protect me from what I’d just found.

Over the next 3 days I repeatedly asked three separate lawyers about what I had witnessed when visiting my husband and what could be done to which I received the same response from all “This is Greece, its not right but there is nothing you can do”. I later discovered from Marks present lawyer there was a lot that could have been done however it wasn’t in the interest of the lawyers at the time to upset the police. By the time Marks present lawyer came on board it was too late to make any complaint as the bruising etc had almost healed. Now it is not possible to pursue this as we do not have evidence such as doctors reports or photos to back up our claims.

On Wednesday the 23rd September we all arrived at the courthouse at 9am. All 8 men were already there, 6 of them sitting on the edge of a table while 2 stood at the end of the main corridor. They rotated and took turns sitting on the table and standing for the whole day. They were handcuffed to each other in pairs. There was a large armed police presence which separated Mark and the other boys from their families and friends that had gather to support them. One by one the boys entered a small office accompanied by the lawyer who was representing 6 of the 8 men. Prior to the court proceedings we were assured by this lawyer that Mark would be coached and prepared by him to ensure he handled the interrogation without doing more damage for himself however according to Mark this lawyer did nothing of the sort prior to the proceeding and during the 30 minutes Mark was in the office he did not speak. Even when Mark requested that it be recorded that he had been beaten at the police station and this request refused this lawyer remained silent. Mark was unable to read the statement once it was finished as he cannot read or write Greek. He had to trust this lawyer. On a later date we discovered Mark was completely unaware of what had been recorded in his statement and the huge inconsistencies arising.

This day dragged on until about 9pm. We were only allowed bring the boys water until about half five when Marks older brother approach a police officer with food for them and he allowed it to be given to them. While the final defendant was being interrogated one police officer showed me and another wife a little empathy and allowed us to come up and sit on the floor beside our husbands for 20 minutes. This would be the last time I would get to sit beside my husband side by side (even though his other hand was handcuffed to another man) holding his hand, resting my head on his shoulder, give him a kiss, talk with him while looking into his eyes without having to look through glass. I didn’t know it at the time but this was as close as I was going to get to my husband for the next two years at least ( we are only 17months into that 2 years at present). So today I am grateful to that one police officer who showed us that bit of compassion. At one stage while I sat with Mark another police officer came into the corridor and began to express his dislike for the decision to allow us to sit with our husband for 20 minutes however he was quickly put in his place by the officer who had allowed it.

The day ended with all 8 men being carted back to the police head quarters on the instruction that they be remanded in custody until trial. Following this the family members of the boys met at the lawyers office to ask question. When we arrived I could not even sit up right in the chair. I had run to the toilet on several occasions to be ill.

We returned to Hersonisos and stopped in Tziziki, where Marks brother had returned to work after the days ordeal, to feed my brother. After 5 minutes Mam explained to Marks brother she needed to take me back to the apartment. At this stage I was completely numb and dazed not able to converse or interact with anybody. We walked to where the car was parked but before we reached it I just stopped on the side of the road and completely and utterly broke down. Waves of emotion that had built up over the past 7 days came flooding out of me on the side of the road. My brother rushed to get the car. I can’t even remember, to this day, getting in the car or going home. All I know this panic attack and bombardment of tears, wails, hysteria, gasping lasted for what seemed like an eternity. It just would not stop. Eventually after being placed in the shower and medicated I was put to bed and cried myself to sleep.

Ok gona stop there or I’l actually never get to sleep tonight reliving it. Thanx for reading guys and all the support, it really has been a fantastic relief to finally be able to let all this go and out there and feel like we are starting to make progress.

Naten e mire x