Fisherman freed from Spanish jail after being found guilty of drug trafficking
Published Wednesday, February 13, 2013 4:48PM AST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 13, 2013 7:04PM AST
A Nova Scotia fisherman detained in a Spanish prison for over three years has been set free, despite being found guilty of drug trafficking.
In a verdict handed down in Spanish court today, Phillip Halliday was found guilty, but ordered released immediately.
“It sounds a little bit peculiar, but from what I understand from Spanish counsel, the judgment was peculiar,” says Halliday’s lawyer, Kevin Burke.
The 56-year-old fisherman from Digby, N.S. had been detained in Spain since December 2009 after authorities found drugs hidden in the hull of a decommissioned coast guard ship he was working on.
The entire crew was arrested but Halliday has always maintained he didn’t know anything about the drugs.
“I know for well the Spanish counsel are furious,” says Burke. “They feel the decision would not stand up on review by a higher court and they’re strongly urging the Hallidays to appeal it.”
Burke still has some questions about the case. He hasn’t read the entire judgment or release order yet, but has been briefed by Spanish counsel.
For now, Halliday is under a conditional release, details of which Burke admits he isn’t completely familiar with.
He also says he is focused on getting his client home as quickly as possible.
Halliday’s wife Sheree is doing what she can.
“She’s working very diligently to say the least to deal with the Canadian embassy officials, who in turn are dealing with the Spanish officials to make that happen as soon as possible,” says Burke.
In an email to CTV News, Sheree Halliday says she has just had surgery and will not be taking phone calls or doing interviews, but Burke says she has been in touch with her husband.
“To say the least, he’s extremely delighted now that he’s going to be out of prison and reunited with his family.”
There is no word on when Halliday will arrive in Canada, but Burke believes officials with the Canadian embassy are en route to the prison.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster
Digby fisherman Phillip Halliday spent more than three years in a Spanish prison. He denies any involvement in a scheme to traffic 1,000 kilograms of cocaine worth $600 million.