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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 21:37 GMT
Plane-spotters sent back to jail
Unidentified members of the group arrive in court
The group had expected to be at least freed on bail
A group of British plane-spotters held in Greece on spy charges have been ordered to remain in prison.

It had been hoped at least some of the 12 Britons and two Dutch men would be freed on bail when they appeared before the court in Kalamata on Tuesday.

But now the 13 men and one woman are expected to spend at least two more weeks in jail, after magistrate Socrates Gavalas decided to refer the case to a higher authority.

The case will now be heard by a three-member judicial council which will rule if any of the group have to stand trial.

Peter Norris
Peter Norris spoke from his jail cell

The BBC's Paul Wood said the Britons had been shocked not to be granted bail and looked "utterly despairing".

"It's disgusting, they are just ordinary people with ordinary lives," said Perdita Norris, whose husband Peter is one of the group.

"He has taken it badly and I worry about their mental health. It's a disgrace. Greece has disgraced itself."

But speaking later from his jail cell in Kalamata, her husband Peter maintained the group were keeping up their "true British grit".

Mr Norris said he thought it was outrageous that the group had been held in the country for so long.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "It's disappointing news for the families and detainees.

"We continue to urge the Greek authorities to deal with the case as soon as possible."

'Unbelievable'

The 14 were arrested three weeks ago after allegedly taking photographs at a military air show and a military airbase.

Photographing military installations is strictly forbidden in Greece, which has longstanding military tensions with Turkey, and the charge carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence.


To be invited to an airshow and then spend three weeks in prison is just unbelievable

Steve Rush

But earlier, several group members - who insist they were merely on a week-long plane spotting holiday - had told of their hopes of being released.

Andrew Jenkins told BBC News Online: "I have done nothing wrong so why should I feel guilty? If there is any justice in the world, we will see it today."

Gary Fagan, who is accused of having a frequency scanner, said: "I'm feeling very confident - that's all I can be at the moment."

Steve Rush was less happy: "To be invited to an airshow and then spend three weeks in prison is just unbelievable.

"I came here last year - on exactly the same itinerary - and had a fantastic time... but for some reason this year they didn't like the look of us and decided to lock us up."

Thin mattresses

Wayne Groves said the group had been looked after in prison by fellow prisoners. He said other inmates, mainly Albanians, had provided them with money.

Member of the group in a police car
The group looked "utterly despairing" afterwards

He said there were no beds in the cell, just "thin" mattresses on a concrete floor.

British politicians have been pressing the Greek Government to release the group, but officials in Athens insist they cannot intervene in what is a matter for the Greek judiciary.

The lawyer for the Britons, Yiannis Zacharias, has said he was confident that if the case proceeded to trial, the charges would not stand.

The 12 being held include Paul Coppin, 45, of Mildenhall, Suffolk, who runs Touchdown Tours which organised the trip, and his wife Lesley.

The others are: Peter Norris, 52, of Uxbridge, west London; Antoni Adamiak, 37, of London; Andrew Jenkins, 32, of York; Wayne Groves, 38, of Tamworth; Michael Bursell, 47, of Swanland, near Hull; Michael Keane, 57, of Dartford, Kent; Steven Rush, 38; Christopher Wilson, 46; Graham Arnold, 38; and Gary Fagan, 28.

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The BBC's Paul Wood
"Few Greeks believe the plane-spotters are really spies"
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