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Greek prisoner activist found dead during prisoner transfer

Early on Wednesday morning, a Greek prisoner actively engaged in defending prisoners’ rights was found dead. Katerina Goulioni and other prisoners were being transferred on a ferry from Thiva women’s prison in Greece to Neapoli prison on Crete. It is alleged that, during the transport, she was seated at a distance from other prisoners and that her hands were tied behind her back. Other prisoners are reported to have said that she looked as if she had been hit in the face. Katerina Goulioni contacted Amnesty International on several occasions to report on the inhuman treatment of prisoners and prison conditions for women, including at Thiva prison, near Athens, and at Diavata prison, Thessaloniki. She informed Amnesty International that she had lodged complaints with the Greek Ombudsperson, including one in February 2009, and the prison governor of Thiva prison. She also appeared in a television documentary just before her death. Katerina Goulioni had also been actively involved in Amnesty International’s campaigns by collecting petition signatures from Thiva prisoners. She told members of Amnesty International Greece on 17 March 2009 that the organization’s campaigning materials had recently been removed from her cell together with other human rights documents and that some materials had not been delivered at all. According to information provided by the Greek Ministry of Justice, Katerina Goulioni died of a heart attack. The official coroner’s report is expected next week.   Amnesty International is calling on the Greek authorities to carry out a full, prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the full circumstances of the death of Katerina Goulioni; and into the complaints that she had lodged about the treatment of women prisoners.