An Iraqi appeals court rejected a British tourist’s 15-year prison sentence for smuggling antiquities


15-year prison sentence for smuggling antiquities

Source: AUN News

James Fitton, a retired British geologist, has been imprisoned at Baghdad’s notorious Rusafa prison for six and a half weeks on charges of smuggling antiquities.

“We were notified this morning that the appeals court has decided to overturn the conviction of the Felony Court, to recognirecognizeinnocence in this matter fully, and to process his immediate release from a 15-year jail sentence in Baghdad,” his family stated in a statement released today (July 26).

The 66-year-old retired geologist was accused of ibya legislation passed in 2002 during the rule of Saddam Hussein to combat rampant antiquities smuggling; the charges carried a potential death penalty. According to his daughter Leila Fitton, he is accused of stealing “a few useless pieces of shattered pottery” from the historic site of Eridu in southern Iraq.

He reportedly did so with the approval of Geoff Hann, his tour guide, who later passed away in a hospital while being held by the police, and in front of members of the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH) and local police.

Thair SSound Fitton’s attorney said that Volker Waldman, a German citizen who was traveling with them, and Hann, a South African lady who served as his secretary, all had shards in their hands. The South African woman was permitted to take a flight home due to a mistake made by customs agents at the airport. According to sound, Waldmann was charged but later freed after admitting to giving Fitton two of the stones from Eridu. According to Fitton’s attorney, he was initially accused because he instantly acknowledged asking for the pieces from the site’s desert floor as mementos.

By pointing out discrepancies and mistakes in the evaluation of the evidence and the application of the law, according to Soud, he helped his soundest win the appeal.

The stones were exposed and are still exposed, he claims. “Neither a fence nor any guards were present. My client’s initial reaction was that these were worthless stones. If not, robbers would have targeted them, and the government would have stored them in a museum. The author continues that the tour guides from the Ministry of Tourism did not advise them not to remove the stones because they were actually worthless.

The felony court’s decision, according to Soud, was based so sound on Fitton’s admission that he had taken the stones, not on his “obvious lack of criminal intent,” which was demonstrated by the fact that his client did not attempt to not shots he was taking home. They were discovered in Fitton’s shaving kit, wrapped in tissue.

“Where are these shards that were taken from taken from my client and SBAH regarded ases?” Soud claims he also questioned the appeals court. Do they reside in a gallery? If they exist, why have they been and remain in the open if they do? Why accuse an innocent person if they’re in the trash?

SBAH had not responded to a request for comment as of the time of partition.

Fitton, who is still housed in the Rusafa prison’s general population and others inand no set timetable for release. It’s a paperwork issue, but we’re hoping it won’t take too long because my client has gone through a lot, says Soud.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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