British geologist facing death penalty in Iraq sentenced to 15 years

British geologist facing death penalty in Iraq sentenced to 15 years Credit Twitter @Wera_Hobhouse

Jim Fitton, a retired British geologist was detained at Baghdad airport, when customs officials found 12 pottery shards he had stolen from a site in Iraq. The charge he was accused of, under Iraqi law, states, “whoever exported or intended to export, deliberately, an antiquity, from Iraq, shall be punishable with execution”.

The retired British geologist, has now been sentenced to 15 years in prison on smuggling charges, by an Iraqi court.

The verdict reportedly shocked both his family and court members, who argued that Fitton had not acted with criminal intent.

In a previous court appearance in Baghdad, Jim Fitton told a panel of three judges that he was unaware that his actions were criminal.

He admitted to knowing that the fragments were ancient but stated “at the time didn’t know about Iraqi laws,” or that taking the pieces was prohibited.

Fitton stressed his point by stating “there were no fences no guards or signage”, and had no intention of selling the fragments, simply enjoying collecting items of such a nature due to his former job.

The head judge, Jaber Abdel Jabir responded by stating: “These places, in name and by definition, are ancient sites. One doesn’t have to say it is forbidden.”

Fitton countered the statement by insisting that some of the shards were “no larger than my fingernail”, with the judge answering: “Size doesn’t matter.”


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Joshua Manning

Originally from the UK, Joshua is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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