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Family bid to free dad jailed in Greece holiday nightmare
The wife of a British citizen, who has spent weeks in a Greek jail, said her family is living a “nightmare” as they try to secure his release.
Louise Prenga, of Otley, said her husband Fran has been wrongly imprisoned after a family holiday to the island of Rhodes, earlier this month, turned into a horror story.
Now she feels “completely helpless” as the couple’s daughter, Maria, celebrated her first birthday yesterday, while her father is locked up in a cell as family and friends anxiously try to get him free.
Mr Prenga, 34, was arrested and imprisoned by Greek authorities after attending a police station to fill in some legal documents, relating to a restaurant business he was investing in with some of his family.
He was told police had been looking for him for four years in relation to 72 counts of armed robbery and one count of possessing a weapon without a licence in Athens, between 2004 and 2005.
But Mrs Prenga, 38, has insisted her husband was in Rhodes, not Athens, at the time and has evidence to prove it and his innocence.
“It’s like a living nightmare. You don’t believe it’s happening to you – it’s like a story you read about,” said Mrs Prenga, 34, of Duncan Close, Otley.
“I’m completely frustrated and angry at the system over here as everything is taking so long.We’ve had very bad luck with lawyers and have been ripped off, but hopefully now we have the right lawyers to do their job properly.”
The family say they have witness statements from employers who he worked for during this time, statements from his landlords whose houses he lived in, tax records, marriage certificates, birth certificates, his passports, all proving Mr Prenga is not the person the Greeks are looking for, but the authorities are refusing to release him.
Mr Prenga has not been questioned or formally interviewed by the police and has been held in a cell with 35 other prisoners with no blankets, no food, no clothes. despite attempts to take them to him, and has since been transported to Amfissa Prison, near Athens, to a holding cell to await appearance in front of the district attorney, according to the family, who also say no details or evidence linking him to the alleged crimes have been offered.
Mrs Prenga, who works for Leeds Federated Housing, said her husband, who was arrested on May 8, was being held with appalling conditions in the jail, three hours outside Athens and has seen his health deteriorate since he was detained.
“Fran’s physical condition has deteriorated and he’s now fighting infections from the horrendous unhygienic conditions in which he is being kept,” she said.
Mr Prenga became a British citizen in 2008 and runs his own business installing bathrooms and taking care of general plumbing duties. He met his wife while she was on holiday in Rhodes and the couple married in Mr Prenga’s native Albania in 2005.
Mrs Prenga claimed she has so far received little help from the British Embassy and Foreign Office in trying to secure his release, and has turned to Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland for help.
Mr Mulholland says he written to Foreign Secretary William Hague in an effort to help. “The arrest and detention of Fran Prenga has been a shock to his family, friends and those who know him,” he said.
“The lack of support he and his family have received from the British Embassy in Greece has been extremely concerning, especially considering the conditions he is being kept in.
“This is clearly unacceptable and I have written to the British Ambassador in Greece and to William Hague, expressing my concerns about Fran’s treatment.”
Last night a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the Telegraph & Argus: “We are aware of the arrest of a British national, Fran Prenga, in Rhodes, Greece, on May 8. We are providing consular assistance to the family.”