A 66-year-old Briton has been sentenced by an Iraqi court to 15 years in prison for smuggling antiquities. The judge in Baghdad acquitted a 60-year-old German in the same case.
British retired geologist Jim Fitton and German psychologist Volker Waldman were stopped at Baghdad airport in March. 32 objects (pieces of stone, fragments of pots and ceramics) were found in their luggage. They were accused of smuggling ancient objects out of the country from an archaeological site in Dhi Qar, some 375 kilometres south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
In principle, the Briton should have been sentenced to “death by hanging”, but the judge changed that to 15 years in prison “because of the advanced age of the defendant”. The Briton’s lawyer has already announced that he will appeal against the ruling.
The German co-defendant was acquitted for lack of evidence. Both had pleaded innocent. They said they did not know that the objects they were carrying could be considered antiques.