Beaten tourist waits for explanation

Joel Stirling. Photo / Michael Craig
Joel Stirling. Photo / Michael Craig

Greek officials have confirmed Kiwi tourist Joel Stirling was taken into custody by police in Crete - but have not cleared up how he came to be injured.

A statement from Wellington-based Ambassador Dimitrios Anninos does not rebut Stirling's claim of being beaten by police. Last week, the Herald on Sunday reported claims form Stirling, 29, of being beaten and robbed by Greek police after being set up by a seemingly friendly local in a restaurant in Chania.

Anninos stated Greek police had issued information about the incident. "The owner of a restaurant in Chania, Crete, called the police because a tourist under the influence of alcohol was disturbing the other clients. The officers who arrived at the scene escorted the tourist to the central offices of the Greek Port Police, where he refused to present any official documents of identification except for disclosing his New Zealand nationality."

The Anninos statement said the Consul of New Zealand to Greece was notified immediately and spoke on the phone with the New Zealand man.

The restaurant owner did not press charges. "The consul asked the authorities to release the tourist from custody."

Anninos expressed concern at damage Stirling's account could do for Greece as a tourist destination. "It certainly does not do justice to the strong bonds of friendship between New Zealanders and Greeks and in particular to the warm hospitality shown especially by the people of Crete to Kiwis as a result of their sacrifice in WWII."

Stirling said the statement did not explain why he was beaten while in handcuffs with a sack over his head. "It is very funny how they mention World War II as it wasn't until they found out that I was from New Zealand and that I said I was in the army that they stopped beating me." A doctor had confirmed a fractured eye socket. "I still have blurry vision."

- Herald on Sunday

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