Halliday trial one month away

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
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Candlelight vigil Friday night

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, lights planned for the Digby waterfront and lights for people’s windows.

Philip Halliday will finally get his day in court on Tuesday, Nov. 20 after almost three years in Spanish prison on drug trafficking charges.

Supporters have planned a candlelight vigil at Digby Centre for this Friday, Oct. 19 and they are asking people to light candles in their windows starting Nov. 20 to support Halliday during his trial.

[See below for details on vigil.]

“He’s getting excited,” says his wife Sheree. “He’s counting the days; more so to see us than the trial.”

Sheree and the couple’s two grown sons Cody, 26, and Daren, 24, are flying to Spain for the long-awaited trial.

They will land in Spain Saturday Nov. 17 but won’t see Philip until Monday, Nov. 19.

“They denied our application for a weekend visit because they didn’t have enough staff,” says Sheree. “We had wanted him to be able to rest up Monday. Having visitors, speaking English, it all tires him out.”

Sheree will have an hour and a half alone with Philip, the boys will have another hour and a half and the whole family will be together for another hour and a half.

The group trial starts Tuesday, Nov. 20 and is scheduled to last four days. The proceedings may include as many as nine other co-accused.

Sheree says her lawyer Kevin Burke has explained that the trial process is different in Spain.

The judges already have all of the evidence from all sides—the trial is an opportunity to hear what the accused have to say.

Sheree says they don’t know which day Philip will have to testify or just what questions the prosecution will ask him.

She says the prosecution begins the questioning, can ask whatever they want and any of the judges can interrupt at any time to ask whatever questions they want.

A translator will translate the Spanish questions into English for Philip and translate his answers into Spanish.

Sheree’s sister and her husband, Heather and Gerard LeFort, are also flying over as is family friend Joanne Dunn.

The Canadian embassy has told Sheree that the Spanish court usually returns a verdict within five days.

She hopes it will come before she and the boys fly out on Friday, Nov. 26.

Philip has been in Spanish jail since he was arrested Dec. 21, 2009 just off the Spanish coast.

He was the first mate on the Destiny Empress when Spanish authorities boarded the ship and found 1.5 metric tons of cocaine.

Philip has maintained his innocence and says he believed they were delivering an empty ship to buyers in Spain.

Under Spanish law, prosecutors have up to four years to bring drug charges to trial.

Phillip has been ill for most of his stay in jail with gall bladder, liver and kidney problems and bouts of depression.

Sheree and her sons made their first visit to see Phillip at the end of March this year. Sheree described her husband’s condition at that time as “feeble”. She said her 5'10" husband had lost 50 pounds, dropping from 199 pounds to 145.

Candles for the Hallidays

It’s going to be quiet,” says Sheree Halliday of a candlelight vigil planned for Friday, Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. “It’s just a chance for friends and family to get together one last time before Philip’s trial, to see us before we go, wish us luck, say a prayer.”

The group The Family and Friends of Philip Halliday are asking people to bring a candle with them. They are planning to give a short update on Philip, read some poetry, and then to light candles in support of the Hallidays.

“This is a gathering for silent prayer and meditation for Philip to give him support across the miles,” reads the event listing on the group’s Facebook page. “To give support to Sheree and the boys as they prepare to bring Philip home.”

Organizers are also asking people to light a candle in their window on Nov. 20 and keep it lit until Philip returns home.


Organizations: Digby Centre

Geographic location: Spain

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