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Shocking photos from prison hospital spur justice ministry into promising action

Images show overcrowding of patients in Korydallos jail's hospital wing

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Up to 180 prisoners - including patients with cancer, who are HIV positive or suffering from kidney problems - went on hunger strike on 16 February to highlight the deplorable conditions at hospital wing in Korydallos prison, near Piraeus

The tweet accompanying this photo said there was a danger of a TB outbreak in the prison wing (Photo: @Kolastirio) The tweet accompanying this photo said there was a danger of a TB outbreak in the prison wing (Photo: @Kolastirio) A social media campaign launched on behalf of prisoners to highlight the deplorable conditions inside the prison wing of the country’s largest jail has spurred the government into promising to provide more staff to the troubled unit and to offer early release to particular categories of imates.

After a dozen photographs showing patients in overcrowded and dirty rooms were posted on Twitter via the @Kolastirio (Hellhole) account and on Facebook, the justice ministry announced on Sunday that the more nursing staff would be deployed to the Agios Savvas hospital inside Korydallos prison, in Piraeus.

According the Twitter account, the hospital wing contains prisoners with cancer, who are HIV positive or suffering from kidney problems, among others. It also says that 180 prisoners in the wing went on hunger strike on 16 February to highlight the deplorable conditions they were kept in.

Messages posted on social media in the name of the prisoners said there was a danger of diseases like tuberculoses and scabies spreading beyond the prison walls, noting that there was a school nearby. They also said that a prosecutor had refused to enter and inspect the prison wing because she “has family”.

Image showing patients in the hospital wing sleeping on the floor (Photo: @Kolastirio) Image showing patients in the hospital wing sleeping on the floor (Photo: @Kolastirio) One of the tweets sent through the account was to Human Rights International. It said “Please help us. We are prisoners at Korydallos prison in Greece who have been left to die.”

Image showing overcrowding in hospital wing of Korydallos jail (Photo: @Kolastirio) Image showing overcrowding in hospital wing of Korydallos jail (Photo: @Kolastirio) Reaction

On Sunday, it was announced that amendment would be added to unrelated legislation on Wednesday allowing the early release of prisoners serving sentences of less than 10 years’ duration who suffer from multiple sclerosis, hemiplegia (paralysis of the arm, leg, and trunk on the same side of the body), paraplegia, have undergone heart or kidney transplant operations, have been diagnosed with cancer or have tested HIV positive.

A patient-inmate in the prison wing (Photo: @Kolastirio) A patient-inmate in the prison wing (Photo: @Kolastirio) Female prisoners who have underage children with them in their cells will also be released, according to the justice ministry amendment.

For inmates to be eligible, they must have served at least two fifths of their sentence.

A washroom in the prison wing (Photo: @Kolastirio) A washroom in the prison wing (Photo: @Kolastirio) However, prisoners serving time for crimes relating to terrorism, paedophilia, criminal gangs and defrauding the state will be excluded from the measure.

Linking to this report, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, tweeted he was “worried at reports of degrading conditions of prisoners” at Korydallos and that a quick resolution was necessary.


Tweets by @kolastirio

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