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December 18, 2002

India offered Stillman clemency on condition he leaves country

From:, UK - 18 Dec 2002


The Indian Government offered clemency to Ian Stillman, British missionary charged with possessing 20 kgs of drugs, on compassionate and health grounds on a condition that he leaves India.

Stating this in the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it was for the Indian government whether he is allowed to return.

Stillman, who had spent a lifetime in India tending to deaf in a home for the deaf in Chennai, was arrested in India on August 28, 2000 and charged with possessing 20 kgs of drugs. He was convicted on June 2, 2001 and sentenced to ten years imprisonment.

Countering the accusation that the British Consular service had failed to take care of his case, Straw said: "We have been extremely active on Stillman's case and raised it with the Indian government at every available opportunity." Over the last year, he said he had discussed the case with Indian ministers on at least six occasions. Recently, he raised it with the Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha.

Advani told Straw that if Stillman submitted a clemency plea he would consider it sympathetically.

He said the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Mike O'Brien, Minister Resposnible for India have also raised the case with the Indian Government.

"Our Consular staff in New Delhi and London have done all they can to help Stillman and his family," he said.

Stillman returned here last week after his release from Shimla jail.

© Hathway Investments Private Limited 2002