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Jailed plane-spotters tell of fears

PUBLISHED: 07:13 15 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:50 03 March 2010

PLANE-spotters Paul and Lesley Coppin spoke of their fear they would be moved from police cells into a Greek prison.

The concerned Suffolk couple, detained in Greece on spying charges, believe it was only pressure from the British Embassy which kept them and their party of 12 aviation enthusiasts where they have been since their arrest last week.

PLANE-spotters Paul and Lesley Coppin have spoken of their fear they would be moved from police cells into a Greek prison.

The concerned Suffolk couple, detained in Greece on spying charges, believe it was only pressure from the British Embassy which kept them and their party of 12 aviation enthusiasts where they have been since their arrest last week.

Mr Coppin, from Mildenhall, said the group, which is waiting for experts to study photographs taken by the plane-spotters, was put through several hours of anxiety before being assured no move would take place.

Yesterday the 45-year-old father-of-three young sons, who live with his ex-wife in Eye, said: "We thought we might have to move from our jail cells in the police station to a Greek prison.

"It was something we really didn't want. The conditions would have been far worse and we would have been split up but I think the British Embassy put pressure on the chief of police here and it has now been decided we can stay here."

The plane-spotter, who with his wife runs the East Anglian plane-spotting agency, Touchdown Tours, said conditions in the cells were good compared to what they could expect in a proper prison.

"They're a bit basic but things are not too bad. The 'Turkish' toilets are just holes in the ground and are not pleasant but the cleaners come in once a day and we're getting fruit and drinks from the embassy and have £4 each a day to send out for chicken and coffee."

He said the group was trying to keep spirits high, particularly for Mrs Coppin's 51st birthday yesterday, but remaining positive was proving more and more difficult.

"We have done nothing wrong and they have got no evidence against us but things just keep being put back further and further. We're hoping to be freed on Friday but we just don't know anymore.

"I have spoken to my three sons _ Laurence, Adam and Jordan _ and I know all they want is for me to come back. I just hope I will be back with them for the weekend."

Mrs Coppin has pledged never to go on another plane-spotting trip with her husband following their arrest and detention.

She has denounced the Greek authorities, who she claims are refusing to release the group immediately in a bid to "save face" for the "ludicrous" arrest. The grandmother is convinced the courts will be faced with no option but to release the group when photographs taken by the party are revealed to be nothing more sinister than holiday snaps taken by aviation buffs.

On Monday, an investigating magistrate and a prosecutor ordered the 12 Britons and two Dutch nationals be remanded in custody until the material seized could be reviewed.

james.mortlock@ecng.co.uk

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