Fran is reunited with his family after nightmare in Greek jail cell (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Otley man Fran Prenga has flown back to England after being held on armed robbery charges
An innocent man said he feared going to sleep and ‘not waking up’ after being wrongly locked in the cell of a Greek jail for five months alongside murderers and drug dealers.
Fran Prenga returned home from his ordeal last week, but says he is still suffering nightmares about the time he was incarcerated in Greece falsely accused of carrying out more than 70 armed robberies in Athens between 2004 and 2005.
The 34-year-old, of Otley, says he is trying to rebuild his life, with wife Louise and daughter Maria, one.
The bathroom fitter, who has his own business, also spent an week in an immigration prison, despite being cleared of all charges.
His nightmare finally ended on Friday, when Greek authorities put him on a plane and he was reunited with his family at Heathrow Airport.
“It’s hard, but it’s nice. I’ve had lots of support and lots of friends,” Mr Prenga said of his return. But I’m still recovering..”
His problems in Greece started in May, after going to a police station to sign documents relating to investment in a restaurant business.
He was told there was a warrant for his arrest dating from 2006 and detained. Even now he does not know why he was arrested as he had visited the country with his wife at least ten times since 2006.
He spent months in prison before his trial on September 24 and after being cleared, was still detained until last week as authorities struggled with paperwork and refused to let him go.
Mr Prenga, who is originally from Albania, described the conditions, sharing with more than 40 others.
“There were between 37 and up to 43 in there. We were on metal beds and I slept next to murderers. Sometimes I thought I might never wake up. When I got to the courtroom, I was shaking. They say innocent men don’t shake but they do.”
He was at times sleeping on concrete floors with no water and in a cell for hours on end.
Mrs Prenga says the ordeal has had a massive impact on the family and they will never go back to Greece.
She says she is willing to fight for compensation and says the British Embassy should have done more.
“But it’s not about the money, it’s about the whole way we were treated.”