Page last updated at 20:34 GMT, Tuesday, 30 September 2008 21:34 UK

Greek police 'attacked' witnesses

Jon Hiles
Jon Hiles had represented Great Britain in roller hockey

Friends of a student accused of killing a roller hockey player while on holiday have told a court they were assaulted by Greek police during questioning.

The Greek authorities allege Andrew Symeou, 19, of Enfield, north London, pushed Jonathan Hiles, 18, of Llandaff North, Cardiff, off a nightclub stage.

Mr Hiles died from his injuries on 22 July last year while on holiday on the island of Zakynthos in Greece.

Westminster magistrates are to rule on whether Mr Symeou should be extradited.

Mr Symeou, a student at Bournemouth University, denies the manslaughter allegation made against him.

He said he did not know about the death until his return to the UK on 24 July.

He was arrested on 26 July at his home, after a European warrant was issued by Greek authorities.

He (an officer) grabbed my throat and just squeezed and I felt like I couldn't breathe
Chris Kyriacou

Giving evidence, Mr Symeou's friend Charles Klitou, 19, from north London, said he was physically and verbally intimidated during an eight-hour interrogation.

He said: "I got hit by the big guy (an officer) with a fist quite hard.

"The big guy left the room and came back with a black police bat and was tapping it in his hand. I couldn't think, I was just sitting there waiting to be hit."

Mr Klitou said he was scared and so agreed to sign a statement handwritten in Greek identifying his friend.

He said his jaw was swollen and sore after being hit by the officer, although an X-ray taken in the UK showed no damage, the court was told.

Another friend, Chris Kyriacou, 20, said he was punched 10 times by Greek police.

'No jurisdiction'

He said: "He (an officer) grabbed my throat and just squeezed and I felt like I couldn't breathe."

Mr Kyriacou told the court that he was also asked to sign a handwritten statement implicating his friend.

Mr Hiles, who represented the Great Britain roller hockey team and also played ice hockey for Cardiff Devils' junior team, was with friends in the club on 20 July when he was injured.

Mr Symeou's lawyer, John Jones, argued the Greek courts had no right to issue the warrant for his client's arrest without a previous summons being issued.

Peter Caldwell, for the Greek Judicial Authority, said the magistrates' court had no jurisdiction over the Greek court's decision and that the warrant would remain valid.

Mr Symeou was released on conditional bail and the case was adjourned until 30 October.


SEE ALSO
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27 Jun 08 |  South East Wales
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