Jim Fitton, 66, arrived at court in Baghdad and was given a 15-year sentence after being convicted of smuggling antiquities. Fitton, a British citizen, was found to have artifacts in his bag, along with fellow traveler, Volker Waldmann, when they were attempting to leave Baghdad airport on March 20.
He is now back in jail until his lawyer can appeal the sentence.
Waldmann, a German citizen, has been found not guilty and is expected to be released. In the US-UK war on Iraq, Germany and France openly opposed the invasion, occupation, and destruction of Iraq, for regime change. One must wonder if the Iraqi judge's decision was influenced by the role the United Kingdom played in the deaths and injuries of millions, as well as the destruction of the country's infrastructure, which has never recovered.
Fitton, a geologist, was on an organized archaeology tour in southern Iraq when he picked up some stones and pottery shards while there and claims not to have known this was a crime.
Sam Tasker, Fitton's son-in-law, commented that Fitton is well traveled, especially in the Middle East, and respects cultures and history. This assessment doesn't quite square with the crime he has been convicted with. People who travel are well aware that you can't bring home souvenirs that are not paid for lawfully.
The lawyer for Fitton, Thair Soud, said he would immediately appeal in a routine court review of the case in a week. "My client does not deserve this punishment. The antiques that were found with him were stones and pieces of broken pottery that had no material, or archaeological, value."
Soud said, "In his house, you can find a lot of these things from different countries. He has a habit that wherever he goes he collects something from there. It could be sand or stone or anything that doesn't have value, you can find many things like this in his house."
It may be found that the statement by Soud will be damning to Fitton in this case, as it demonstrates a clear history of disregarding the property of countries he has visited.
European laws are similar
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