British geologist jailed for 15 years in Iraq for smuggling artefacts | Iraq


A British citizen has been sentenced by an Iraqi courtroom to fifteen years in jail on prices of smuggling artefacts in a foreign country, in a case that has attracted worldwide consideration.

The decision handed all the way down to Jim Fitton, a retired geologist, shocked the courtroom in Baghdad, together with his defence lawyer. He and his household have argued that Fitton, 66, had no legal intent.

“I believed the worst-case state of affairs could be one yr, with suspension,” mentioned Fitton’s lawyer, Thair Soud.

A German nationwide tried with Fitton was discovered to not have legal intent within the case and might be launched.

However Decide Jabir Abd Jabir discovered that by choosing up the gadgets, revealed to be artefacts older than 200 years in response to a technical authorities investigation, and intending to move them in a foreign country, Fitton had legal intent to smuggle them.

The choose didn’t think about Soud’s arguments that laid out Fitton’s ignorance of Iraqi legal guidelines and the worth of the gadgets. Fitton and the German nationwide, Volker Waldman, had been arrested in Baghdad airport on 20 March after airport safety found the gadgets of their baggage. They’d been a part of a tourism expedition throughout the nation’s historical websites.

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Fitton’s household grew fearful when he didn’t arrive on a scheduled flight again to Kuala Lumpur, the place he lives along with his spouse. They later realized that Fitton, a well-travelled geologist for oil and gasoline firms, had been taken to an airport holding cell the place he was nonetheless being detained, Fitton’s daughter Leila mentioned final month.

The case garnered consideration when, pissed off by perceived inaction on the a part of the British Overseas Workplace to intervene and help in Fitton’s case, his household began a petition that has greater than 100,000 signatures. The British diplomatic mission in Baghdad has not commented on its involvement within the case.

Fitton’s household mentioned that in complete, 12 fragments of pottery and different shards had been present in Fitton’s possession by Iraqi authorities, all of them collected as souvenirs throughout a bunch tourism expedition to Eridu, an historical Mesopotamian website in what’s now Dhi Qar province.

Waldman’s protection staff mentioned the German vacationer had been carrying the items for Fitton however that he didn’t choose them up from the positioning. Each males had been charged with smuggling based mostly on the nation’s antiquities legal guidelines and will have doubtlessly confronted the demise penalty. Nonetheless, officers mentioned that was solely a distant risk.

Soud mentioned he intented to attraction in opposition to sentence instantly. It isn’t clear if Fitton can serve out his sentence in his residence nation, which might require a bilateral settlement between Iraq and the UK.

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