2 more years in Spanish jail for Digby fisherman

A former Digby, N.S., fisherman arrested for drug trafficking will spend another two years in a Spanish jail waiting for trial.

A former Digby, N.S., fisherman arrested for drug trafficking will spend another two years in a Spanish jail waiting for trial.

That's the decision handed down Friday to Philip Halliday, 55, by a panel of judges after a hearing took place Nov. 28., his wife said.

Halliday's wife, Sheree, said it was not a unanimous decision.

"Two of the judges voted for Philip to remain in prison for another two years to await a trial, and one judge voted for his release," she told CBC News Saturday.

Halliday was one of seven crew members aboard the Destiny Empress, which was boarded and seized by officers from the Spanish National Police special operations group on Dec. 20, 2009.

Investigators said they discovered 1.5 tonnes of cocaine in the ship's hold and Scotland Yard asserted the seizure was worth about $620 million at street prices. Halliday was charged with drug trafficking in March 2010.

If he's found guilty, Sheree Halliday said her husband faces an 18-year prison sentence.

The vessel had been under surveillance by Interpol. Fourteen people in the U.K. have been convicted for their part in the operation and are serving prison terms.

The seven crew members are still waiting to enter a plea on charges in Spain.

Sheree Holliday said to the best of her knowledge, the two-year wait for a trial is because they are being tried in a special section of the courts for organized crime.

"We knew when he was arrested that Spanish law says they can keep people up to four years without giving them a trial date," she said.

Halliday's family insists he is innocent and has petitioned the federal government to intervene.

Sheree Halliday said the family has had little help from Canada so far. She said there are Canadian embassy case workers there to talk to, but she said their hands are tied.

"Right now what worries me is his mental status more than his physical," she said. "His gallbladder problems have been looked after and he still has a tumour on his right kidney that I don't think is giving him any problem.

"He is definitely depressed and suffering from anxiety and I do worry about his mental health," she said. "To think that he has been arrested and accused of organized crime — it's ludicrous."