Tourists detained after prank ‘backfired’
TWO young British women on their first holiday abroad said they were stripsearched and locked in a bloodstained prison cell in Greece when a prank backfired.
Shona Cox and Vicki Albone, both 20, had saved for months to pay for their $3600 trip but it turned into a nightmare when the prank went wrong.
The Sun reported the pair met a group of Greek men on Issos Beach, in Corfu, on August 24.
After spending the afternoon together, they jokingly decided to hide one of the men's clothes further along the beach while he was swimming.
They then returned to their four-star resort but were shocked when the police arrived at the hotel that evening.
They said police told them to return the clothes, as well as a $700 Rolex watch, or face arrest.
When they explained they didn't have the items, they were put in a police cell for three days.
"It was the most terrifying and traumatic experience of our lives," Ms Cox, an airport worker, said. "From start to finish, we were both treated so badly and I've never seen anything like it.
"No one explained anything to us but we were summoned into a room and strip searched."
She said the cells were "absolutely gruesome".
"There was graffiti on the walls and there was urine all over the floor," she said.
"There was writing on the walls smeared in blood. The mattresses were rotten and there was liquid spewing out the side of one.
"I was forced to sleep on the bare mattress and was not given a sheet, pillow, a blanket or anything.
"Smoking was also allowed in the cells so it stunk of stale cigarettes."
Ms Cox, from Essex, in the United Kingdom, accused the Greek men of making up a story that they had chased them back to their hotel room.
"They said they saw us go in with the clothes and the watch," she said. "That was a complete lie, we did not touch a watch and no one chased us anywhere.
"The police said that if we didn't hand over the watch, they would have to arrest us.
"Even after numerous times explaining to them that we didn't take the clothes or the watch they still asked us to give it back and eventually arrested us."
The 20-year-olds said they were thrown into the back of a police van and taken to a station where they were made to give a written statement.
After locating an English speaking lawyer after three hours, their statements were taken and they were stripsearched and locked in a cell.
They said they were denied food and fresh water until 8pm on Sunday.
"My basic human rights were just taken away and no one cared," Ms Cox said.
"I'd like to think I'm quite a strong person but I have never cried so much or been so scared in my life."
She said she threw up at one point and instead of helping her, a security guard "threw boiled sweets" at her.
Ms Cox and Ms Albone, an assistant teacher, said they then had to wait for three days for the Greek men to return from Athens to testify.
They were allowed to sleep in the hotel but were still terrified.
"My dream holiday and my first trip abroad had been ruined and all I could think of is, 'Am I going to be sent to jail here for something I did not do?'" Ms Cox said.
They didn't attend court on Wednesday and were represented by their lawyer.
"We spent the whole of Wednesday in fear, waiting for that call and we did not hear anything until 5pm that afternoon to say that we were found not guilty," Ms Cox said.
"We were allowed to go home first thing the next day.
"This is a warning to everyone before they go to Greece, it may be a nice destination to go to but if a time comes that you're in trouble and you actually need help, this is how they treat you."
The British Foreign Office has been contacted for a response.