British pensioner jailed in Iraq has 15-year conviction overturned

Image of Jim Fitton with his family. Credit: Twitter@Wera_Hobhouse

A British pensioner who was handed a 15-year prison sentence in Iraq has had his conviction overturned.

As reported by his lawyer, Thaer Saoud, this afternoon, Tuesday, July 26, Jim Fitton, the pensioner who had been handed a 15-year jail sentence in Iraq has had his conviction overturned by a court, according to

He had been sentenced last month, accused under a 2002 Iraqi law of ‘intentionally taking or trying to take out of Iraq, an antiquity’. This law carries a maximum sentence of death by hanging. The judge found him guilty of criminal intent, but due to Mr Fitton’s age, the judge chose to imprison him instead.

Mr Saoud had launched an appeal after his client was convicted, and today he published the Court of Cassation’s judgement on his Facebook page. It stated that the original verdict had been cancelled and that Mr Fitton would be freed from prison.

The pensioner was being set free due to a lack of evidence it added, highlighting that no criminal intent was intended by the British man. Mr Fitton will be released from prison ‘in the next few days, as soon as the proceedings are completed’, pointed out Mr Saoud.

During his trial in June, Mr Fitton had faced the charges along with Volker Waldmann, a German national. Both men had pleaded not guilty but only Mr Waldmann was acquitted.

The incident leading to the retired geologist’s arrest occurred when he was at the airport in Iraq. Mr Fitton was about to leave the country after, among other things, going on a guided tour of the Sumerian city of Eridu.

While indulging in the delights of this city of ancient Mesopotamia he happened to pick up around a dozen pieces of pottery and ceramics. He was carrying these in his luggage, according to statements from customs officers and witnesses at the airport.

Mr Fitton told the judge during his trial that he had not meant to do anything illegal and that collecting old artefacts was his hobby. ‘I didn’t realise that taking them was against the law’, he had told the judge at the time. She had even raised a petition to free the retired geologist.



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Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he 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