Jim Fitton: British geologist jailed for 15 years for making an attempt to smuggle artefacts out of Iraq

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The household of a retired British geologist who has been jailed for 15 years in Iraq mentioned they’re “shattered’ and “heartbroken” by the decision.

Jim Fitton, 66, collected 12 stones and shards of damaged pottery as souvenirs whereas visiting a web site in Eridu in southeast Iraq as a part of an organised geology and archaeology tour.

The daddy of two was charged with smuggling below the nation’s antiquities regulation after his arrest at Baghdad Worldwide Airport in March.

Beneath Iraqi regulation, he may have confronted the dying penalty, however on Monday a Baghdad courtroom sentenced him to fifteen years in jail.

Fitton’s son-in-law Sam Tasker, 27, mentioned the decision was “tantamount to a dying sentence” and criticised the federal government for his or her “complete lack of motion”.

“We’re completely shattered by this information. For a person of Jim’s age, 15 years in an Iraqi jail is tantamount to a dying sentence,” he mentioned.

“Significantly for such a trivial and doubtful crime, against the law that Jim was not even conscious of when he perpetrated it.

“We’re utterly heartbroken that our personal finest efforts, a powerful authorized defence and fixed campaigning, have led to this final result.

“We’re disenchanted, certainly shocked, at our personal authorities’s complete lack of motion on this case up to now.

“We’re elevating an attraction and can proceed to struggle for Jim’s freedom, and urge the federal government to assist us in each method attainable and to open traces of communication with us at a senior stage.”

 Leila, Sarijah and Jim Fitton
Picture:
Leila, Sarijah and Jim Fitton

‘Worst-case situation could be one yr’

German vacationer Volker Waldmann, who was arrested concurrently Fitton, was acquitted of the identical costs and can be launched.

Fitton’s lawyer Thair Soud mentioned he would attraction the decision on the grounds that there was no prison intent, including: “I assumed the worst-case situation could be one yr, with suspension.”

The pair had been held in Iraq because the objects had been discovered of their baggage on 20 March.

The lads had instructed the courtroom that they had not acted with prison intent and Fitton previously said he “suspected” the items he collected were ancient fragments, including that “on the time I did not find out about Iraqi legal guidelines” or that taking the shards was not permitted.

Fitton lives in Malaysia along with his spouse, Sarijah.

FILE PHOTO: Jim Fitton from Britain and Volker Waldmann from Germany, who are suspected of smuggling ancient artefacts out of Iraq, are escorted in handcuffs by Iraqi policemen, outside a court in Baghdad, Iraq, May 22, 2022. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani/File Photo
Picture:
Jim Fitton (left) and Volker Waldmann had been each accused of smuggling artefacts out of Iraq

His daughter Leila Fitton, 31 and her husband, Mr Tasker, reside in Tub.

Their petition – along with Fitton’s son Joshua – calling for UK ministers to intervene to assist free the geologist has collected greater than 280,000 signatures.

The case was mentioned within the Commons final month and Overseas Workplace minister James Cleverly mentioned the British ambassador in Iraq has raised the case 4 occasions with the native authorities.

Decide Jabir Abd Jabir discovered that by selecting up the objects, which had been artefacts relationship again greater than 200 years, and meaning to take them out of Iraq, Fitton had prison intent.

The choose didn’t contemplate Mr Soud’s arguments of Fitton’s ignorance of Iraqi regulation.

Waldman’s defence staff argued the German had been carrying the items for Fitton however that he didn’t decide them up from the positioning.

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