A retired British geologist, Jim Fitton, has been jailed for 15 years for attempting to remove artefacts from Iraq.
The 66-year-old, who is from Bath in England, collected 12 stones and shards of broken pottery during a recent geology and archaeology tour of the country even though he insisted he was not aware that he was breaking Iraqi laws.
“For a man of Jim’s age, 15 years in an Iraqi prison is tantamount to a death sentence,” the family said.
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Mr Fitton was arrested at Baghdad airport on 20 March alongside German national Volker Waldmann.
When Judge Jabir Abd Jabir asked Mr Fitton why he tried to take the artefacts out of Iraq, he cited his “hobby” and said he did not mean to do anything illegal.
They were charged under a 2002 law against “intentionally taking or trying to take out of Iraq an antiquity”.
Mr Fitton’s sentence appeared to have shocked those in the court, including his defence lawyer as he said he thought his sentence wouldn’t be more than one year.