British man discovered with historical shards in Iraq to face trial

BAGHDAD: A British nationwide accused by Iraq of gathering small archaeological fragments might be tried subsequent week on fees probably punishable by demise, his Baghdad lawyer stated Wednesday.
Retired geologist Jim Fitton, 66, was arrested in March on the Baghdad airport after Iraqi customs officers discovered him in possession of pottery fragments taken from an historical website in southern Iraq. A German citizen accompanying him was additionally charged, however particulars of his case haven’t been made public.
Fitton will stand trial earlier than Iraq’s Felony Courtroom this Sunday, his lawyer, Thair Soud, advised The Related Press.
The fees towards him are primarily based on Iraq’s opaque antiquities legal guidelines and are punishable by demise. Nonetheless, Fitton’s authorized staff and a British official following the case have stated they imagine this final result might be unlikely.
Throughout the trial, Soud should show to a panel of judges that Fitton didn’t harbor any felony intent when he picked up shards of pottery discovered strewn throughout the desert panorama throughout a tourism expedition to Eridu, an historical Mesopotamian website in what’s now Dhi Qar province. In complete, 12 fragments of pottery and different shards had been present in Fitton’s possession by Iraqi authorities.
Soud had drafted a proposal beneath Iraqi legislation to have the case closed earlier than a trial takes place on the grounds that it might hurt Iraq’s nationwide pursuits. Tourism is a nascent business within the nation, however the authorities launched visas on arrival final 12 months to encourage worldwide guests to come back and tour its many archaeological websites.
Fitton’s household has petitioned the British International Workplace to help Soud in submitting his proposal to Iraq’s public prosecutor, garnering over 100,000 signatures. Fitton missed his daughter Leila Fitton’s marriage ceremony in Malaysia, which befell final Sunday. She stated she was “heartbroken” by his absence.
Issues grew shortly after Fitton’s arrest when Shiite militia teams revealed posts on social media that included his passport particulars and accused the British authorities of making an attempt to intervene with Iraqi judicial procedures.

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