British tourist sentenced for stealing antiquities in Iraq to 15 years

His lawyer said that a 66-year old British man was sentenced to 15 year imprisonment in Iraq for stealing antiquities during an archaeological tour of the country.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
08 June 2022 Wednesday 09:32
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British tourist sentenced for stealing antiquities in Iraq to 15 years

His lawyer said that a 66-year old British man was sentenced to 15 year imprisonment in Iraq for stealing antiquities during an archaeological tour of the country.

Fitton's family fear that the retired geologist could die while serving his sentence. They have asked the UK government for his release.

A petition was started by his family to have Fitton arrested at Baghdad International Airport on March 20, after 12 fragments were discovered by customs officials in Fitton's luggage. According to the petition, the fragments were sent to Iraqi National Museum for analysis. They were then classified as artifacts.

Fitton was charged under the antiquity laws of Iraq with trying to smuggle artifacts from the country.

Volker Waldmann, a German man, was also detained in March. He was not found guilty of the charges due to lack evidence and was released Monday according to Thair Soud Fitton's lawyer.

Fitton's family stated that he was on an archaeology and geology tour in Iraq's southern city of Eridu, when he found the 12 fragments. They claimed that there was no signage or guards prohibiting the removal of items.

Soud claims that his client didn't know the contents of the items and they were taken from an archeological waste dump. His client collects stones from all places he goes, and he claimed he didn't intend to commit any crime.

Soud said that appeals will be made against the decision.

Fitton's family stated to CNN that they were "absolutely devastated" by the news. For a man his age, 15 years in a Iraqi prison is equivalent to a death sentence. Jim didn't even know he was committing such a minor and innocuous crime when he committed it.

"We are devastated that our best efforts, a strong legal defence and constant campaigning have not led to this result.

The family expressed frustration at the inability of UK authorities to assist Fitton.

They stated that they were "disappointed, in fact shocked" at the government's lack of action on this case. We are making an appeal to Jim for his freedom and will continue to fight to get it. We also urge the government support in all possible ways and open communication lines with us at the highest levels of government.

Top image: Jim Fitton (center) was found guilty in an attempt to smuggle antiquities. German tourist Volker Waldmann (right) was not found guilty because of a lack of evidence. Credit: Hadi Mizban/AP

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