Greek prison guards charged with torture death


THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Eight Greek prison guards were charged Tuesday with torturing to death an Albanian convict accused of fatally stabbing a guard in another jail after being refused temporary release to visit his critically ill mother.

Prosecutor Nikos Antonarakis, in the central town of Amfissa, issued arrest warrants for the guards, who work in the northern Nigrita Prison where Ilie Kareli, 42, was found fatally injured in his cell last week after a severe beating.

The Justice Ministry said Kareli was taken to Nigrita "for his own safety," two days after the fatal stabbing of a guard in Malandrino Prison, central Greece, and put in a single cell monitored by surveillance cameras. But investigators allege that before entering that cell, he spent more than two hours in another part of the prison without cameras, where guards assaulted him.

If proved, the torture charges carry a maximum life sentence in prison.

Coroners found that Kareli had been hit on the head and body, and suffered chest injuries that led to his death from heart failure. They also noted signs he had been beaten on the soles of his feet and electrocuted.

Justice Ministry secretary-general Marinos Skandamis said the guards had engaged in "brutal, inhuman and shameful acts ... that belong to the darkest ages of human history."

Kareli was serving a 20-year sentence for attempted murder, robbery and drugs.

Judicial authorities will also investigate whether other guards at Nigrita or Malandrino Prison, as well as police officers who transferred Kareli from the one penitentiary to the other, should face charges.

Greece has come under severe criticism from rights groups for the conditions in its overcrowded and understaffed prisons, which are designed for 9,300 inmates and have a population of 12,700.