Geologist Jim Fitton appeals against jail sentence in Iraq

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Jim Fitton at courtImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Jim Fitton was detained while trying to leave the country in March

A retired British geologist has lodged an appeal against his 15-year jail sentence for attempted artefact smuggling in Iraq.

Jim Fitton, 66, has spent the last fortnight in an Iraqi prison.

The father-of-two collected stones and shards of pottery as souvenirs while on an organised tour at Eridu, in Iraq's south east.

Iraqi officials said the items could be considered archaeological pieces as they date back over 200 years.

Mr Fitton has repeatedly insisted he did not intend to smuggle the items and those on the tour were told the shards had no economic or historical value.

His family, who have said they are concerned about his safety and welfare, hope a fresh review of the evidence will secure his release.

Appeal judges are expected to consider Mr Fitton's case in the next two to four weeks, although there is no set timeframe.

His son-in-law Sam Tasker, 27, from Bath, Somerset, said: "The appeal is in.

"It, as far as we understand it, will be processed behind closed doors by a small group of judges within the Iraqi judiciary, and they will issue a verdict."

Image source, Jim Fitton
Image caption,
Mr Fitton lives in Malaysia with his wife, Sarijah

Mr Fitton and German tourist Volker Waldmann were arrested after the items were found in their possession as their group prepared to fly out of Baghdad airport on March 20.

Mr Fitton was then held in an airport detention cell before being moved to prison shortly after his sentencing on June 6.

Mr Waldmann was cleared after his defence team argued he had been carrying two pieces for Mr Fitton but did not pick them up from the site.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has faced repeated calls to intervene to help Mr Fitton, who worked as a geologist for oil and gas companies.

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