Greek inmates leak photos of 'hellish' prison hospital
Issued on: Modified:
Inmates at a Greek prison hospital have launched a hunger strike in protest at the overcrowding that they say is leading to the spread of infectious diseases. Some are also refusing medication. Using a smuggled mobile phone, they are posting photos of their living conditions to Facebook and Twitter. FRANCE 24 interviewed one of them by phone.
Inmates sleeping on mattresses on the floor of a prison hospital. All photos shared on Facebook.
Inmates at a Greek prison hospital have gone on hunger strike in protest at the overcrowding that they say is leading to the spread of infectious diseases. Some are also refusing medication. Using a smuggled mobile phone, they are posting photos of their living conditions to Facebook and Twitter.
Bunk beds, beds in the hallways, mattresses on the floor: the photographs shared by the inmates show how cramped Korydallos, Greece’s only prison hospital, has become. The facility is meant to house 60 men, but currently holds more than 200, according to inmates and staff.
The photos, which began to circulate on social media over the weekend, drew concern from the Council of Europe’s human rights commission, Nils Muiznieks, who took to Twitter to say that a quick resolution was necessary. The Greek justice ministry told local media on Monday that the hospital’s staff numbers would be boosted and that a law would be introduced to provide early release to certain very sick prisoners serving sentences shorter than 10 years.
Bunk beds at Korydallos prison hospital.
“We are all mixed together, those that are contagious and those that are not”
Dimitris (not his real name) is an inmate at the Korydallos prison hospital, which is located west of Athens. He has lived there for several years, and says he suffers from a severe form of cancer.
We have gone on strike several times in the past few years, and promises have been made, but nothing has changed. So this time, we smuggled in a mobile phone with an Internet connection in order to broadcast our strike to social media, and to the world.
The men here suffer from a wide variety of ailments. There are patients with cancer, with kidney failures, with severe respiratory diseases. Others – more than half – are HIV-positive, but are otherwise in fine health. And then there are those with contagious diseases, like tuberculosis, hepatitis and scabies. Due to the overcrowding, we are all mixed together, those that are contagious and those that are not.
This is the only room at the prison hospital where there are no bunk beds, according to the inmates.
On February 16, the vast majority of us decided to go on strike after two inmates who were here due to other ailments were diagnosed with tuberculosis. We all want to get tested for tuberculosis, but so far only a handful of people have been given the test.
An inmate's IV drip, supported by what inmates described as a broom handle.
“My room is 30 square metres, and it’s home to between 18 and 20 men”
We live in a real hell. My room is 30 square metres, and it’s home to between 18 and 20 men. There are no single rooms here, not even for the oldest and sickest. The guards usually stay outside the prison hospital walls, but when they do come inside to count us, they wear masks and gloves. There are only two doctors, and not enough nurses. There are two or three in the mornings, but in the afternoon and at night, there is only one. The hospital is dirty and unsanitary.
A handicapped inmate in a dirty bathroom.
Often, patients are told that there is no money for the drugs they need. Recently, inmates collected money in order to pay for medicine for one patient with Hodgkin’s diseases who really needed it to survive. There’s barely any hospital equipment. When there’s an emergency and an inmate needs to be transferred to a ‘real’ hospital, it can take hours for him to get there, because the rules say the ambulance needs to be escorted by police, and it can take quite a while for them to arrive.
We’re human beings. Many of us are in prison for financial crimes; we haven’t done anything violent. We don’t understand why we’re being treated like this.