England

Ray Cole calls Morocco jail experience 'a total nightmare'

  • 8 October 2014
  • From the section England
Media captionRay Cole said he was "overwhelmed" to be released

A British man released after being jailed for "homosexual acts" in Morocco described the experience as a "total nightmare" on his return to the UK.

Ray Cole, from Kent, flew back into Gatwick Airport after spending 20 days in jail in Marrakesh.

Mr Cole, 69, said: "I've seen things I never knew existed. It's not a prison, it's a concentration camp."

He was detained, along with his friend Jamal Jam Wald Nass, when police found "homosexual images" on his phone.

Foreign Office guidelines state that homosexuality is a crime in Morocco.

Speaking to reporters at Gatwick, Mr Cole, who turns 70 on 25 October, said he initially thought he was being transferred to another jail, when prison staff talked to him.

'Horrendous conditions'

"But then they said they were sending me home," said Mr Cole, from Deal.

"And they offered me the choice of spending the night in Marrakesh or getting the next flight [home]."

Image caption Ray Cole said he was "so proud" of his family for their campaign to free him

He said prison conditions were "horrendous", with inmates as young as 10 and as old as 90 being held "for nothing".

"I can hardly move my arm now, from 20 nights sleeping on the floor - I just want to go home and sleep in a soft bed," he said.

He had no idea about the campaigning for his release carried out by his family, who said they were "ecstatic" about his return.

"I'm so proud of them - I couldn't have a better family," Mr Cole added.

He said the attitudes to homosexuality in Morocco "are about 100 years out of date".

'No sex tourist'

"One guy who I chatted with suggested I could possibly take tablets and it would be all right," he explained.

Mr Cole was unsure what had happened to 20-year-old Mr Nass, though he suspected he was still being held in prison.

"But I think the judge might have to release him too," he said.

"I'm terribly sorry about him - I want to do anything I can [to help him].

"They seemed to think that I was some kind of sex tourist, but I'm not and I wasn't - and I won't leave this, I can't."

His son Adrian added they would be consulting their legal team later, to discuss how they could help Mr Nass.

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