Nova Scotia

Digby man jailed in Spain finally has surgery

A 54-year-old Digby fisherman who's in jail in Spain, has finally had an operation for gallstones.

A 54-year-old Digby fisherman, who's in jail in Spain, has finally had an operation for gallstones.

Philip Halliday has lost 50 pounds and developed a tumour on his liver, since he was arrested on drug smuggling charges more than a year ago.

Halliday is going back to jail from a Spanish hospital where he had surgery Wednesday and his wife Sheree couldn't be happier.

"Oh I am pleased because hopefully this is the surgery that will get rid of most of the pain he was experiencing for 16 months," said Sheree Halliday.

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, valued at about $600 million, in the ship's hold.

Police in Spain and England arrested a further 16 people of several nationalities on accusations that they participated in a criminal network seeking to import the drugs to London via the Caribbean.

Halliday was hospitalized with a gall bladder attack immediately after his arrest. He had heart bypass surgery in 2009.

Halliday was charged with drug trafficking in March 2010—if he's found guilty, Halliday faces a seven-year prison sentence.

It could be three years before his case is heard. Supporters in Digby maintain he's innocent but their efforts to get the Harper government to push for medical treatment fell on deaf ears—until Liberal Geoff Regan raised the issue two weeks ago.

"I have no proof but I really feel that from question period the Minister of Foreign Affairs has contacted the powers that be in Spain and it's is my feeling that that is what got this rolling finally," said Halliday.

Halliday said her husband is feeling better and he's been told he will get a second operation to remove his gallbladder.