Jim Fitton: British geologist jailed in Iraq for smuggling has conviction overturned

  • ITV News' Ian Woods explains the case

A British geologist who was sentenced to 15 years in an Iraqi prison has had his conviction overturned, according to his family.

Jim Fitton, from Bath in Somerset, was detained as he tried to leave Baghdad airport with 12 stones and shards of broken pottery in March this year.

He had collected the items as souvenirs while on an organised geology and archaeology tour in Eridu - a historical site in south east Iraq.

Despite insisting he had not acted with criminal intent, Mr Fitton was found guilty of artefact smuggling and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Mr Fitton's son-in-law, Sam Tasker, said in a statement: "We were informed this morning that the appeals court has decided to quash the verdict of the Felony Court, to fully recognise Jim’s innocence in this case, and to process his immediate release from a 15-year prison sentence in Baghdad."

It's now understood he's set to be released tomorrow (27 July) and will return home later this week.

Retired British geologist Jim Fitton, with his wife Sarijah and his daughter Leila. Credit: family handout

"We are extremely grateful for the support of our lawyer, embassy staff and our MP’s office while we have fought this verdict, and greatly appreciate the decision of the appeals court to completely overturn the verdict and fully recognise Jim’s innocence," he added.

"We are also hugely grateful for the over 350,000 people who supported us on our petition and will be issuing a short update there this evening."

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, welcomed the "fantastic development", saying: "It is impossible to imagine the stress that Jim and his family have endured over the past few months.

"This is a testament to the hard work of the consulate team, Foreign Office officials and, of course, Jim's family."

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