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British father jailed in Iraq for stealing stones sent to notorious torture prison – World News

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Retired geologist Jim Fitton, 66, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after picking up “ancient fragments” from a historic site in Eridu, Iraq

An Iraqi soldier guards Al-Rusafa prison in Baghdad
An Iraqi soldier guards Al-Rusafa prison in Baghdad

The British father-of-two jailed in Iraq for smuggling ancient artifacts has been taken to a notorious prison where inmates have been tortured to death.

Retired geologist Jim Fitton, 66, was on an archeology tour in the Middle East when a guide told him to pick up fragments “as souvenirs” from a hilltop.

The “loving pensioner” was arrested along with a German national – who was acquitted when Jim was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

An inside source has told The Mirror that following the verdict, Jim was taken to Al-Rusafa prison in central Baghdad – where prison guards are handing out cruel and unusual sentences for the “love of torture and revenge”.







At a news conference earlier this week, Leila Fitton said she was “appalled” by the way her beloved father, Jim, is handling his sentence in Iraq
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Picture:

Fitton family / SWNS)

According to a 2021 report, Al Rusafa is one of three prisons in Iraq with the highest number of “victims dying as a result of torture”.

Mustafa Saadoon, director of the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, told The Mirror: “Officials, prison guards and interrogators practice torture extensively in the complex, which consists of several smaller prisons.

Mr Saadoon said human rights activists do not have access to record the full extent of the horrors inside.

But his organization has received testimonies from men and women who have been subjected to appalling abuse, Mr Saadoon said.

According to the Palestinian publication AlQuds Al-ArabiData from medical sources showed that a “significant number” of the 60 victims who died as a result of torture in Iraqi prison in 2021 showed signs of “excessive beatings”.







An Iraqi soldier stands guard in front of prisoners awaiting release from Al-Rusafa prison in Baghdad April 29, 2010
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Picture:

AFP via Getty Images)

These included bruises and bruises on the “flank areas, genitals, lower back, fractures in the cervical vertebrae.”

Some victims died as a result of food poisoning, a condition that can be easily treated with drugs, the report said, citing the AFAD Human Rights Defense Observatory.

Five dead prisoners from other Iraqi facilities showed signs of severe internal bleeding and required autopsies to determine the cause.

According to the report, the investigation was dropped after the victim’s families were intimidated.







Leila and her partner Sam Tasker speak at the BBC Breakfast on June 8th
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bathroom chronicle)

The abuse is not limited to post-trial detention facilities, as “horrific instances of torture, coerced confessions” and other threats take place before the accused even appear in court.

Techniques include threats to “search the homes of their relatives and arresting women if no confessions are made”.

A recent prison built to modern standards was constructed using “hook, hoist rings and chains” of interrogation rooms – suggesting it was a “regular practice” by officials, the report adds.

Mr Saadoon told The Mirror: “Officials, prison guards and interrogators practice torture extensively.







Human rights groups say abuse is rampant in Iraq’s prison system
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Picture:

AFP via Getty Images)

“We receive many testimonies about torture in prisons, but the authorities remain silent on the matter and do not help us to hold the torturers accountable.

“Torture is practiced in Baghdad’s prisons, particularly in Al-Rusafa prison.

“Some of the torture operations are for sectarian or ethnic reasons, or maybe because of the love of torture and revenge that some of the guards have.”

At a press conference earlier this week, Jim’s daughter Leila Fitton explained how the family is kept in the dark about the “loving pensioner” and the conditions in which he lives.







Mr. Fitton with his wife and two children, Joshua and Leila
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Picture:

Fitton family / SWNS)

Ms Fitton said: “We have no knowledge of the conditions he is facing and are afraid of what he has to go through on a daily basis.

“My heart beats every time the phone rings.

“My father is not a criminal, he is a loving pensioner who just wants to spend his remaining years reading books, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with his family.

“He had no criminal intent and actually didn’t know what he was doing was a crime.







The family have complained about a lack of commitment from Secretary of State Liz Truss
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Picture:

Agency Anadolu via Getty Images)

“He is the victim of a terrible injustice.”

Ms Fitton told reporters the shards of pottery that led to Mr Fitton’s “ridiculously harsh” sentence were “no more than archaeological debris tossed aside”.

She said: “After 13 weeks of emotional purgatory and a grueling trial, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison – a highly political, unfair and ridiculously harsh sentence for attempting to export artifacts from Iraq.

“These artifacts are really little more than discarded archaeological debris the size of your fingernail and are generally regarded as having no cultural or economic value.

“They are scattered all over the ground at the Eridu site, unprotected and with no signs warning of their removal.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/brit-dad-jailed-iraq-stealing-27264822 British father jailed in Iraq for stealing stones sent to notorious torture prison - World News

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