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December 13, 2002

Released British charity worker returns to Britain

From:, UK - 13 Dec 2002


The British charity worker, Ian Stillman, released from a Shimla jail after political intervention arrived here today to cheers from family and friends.

Fifty-two-year-old Stillman, who had spent a life time in India serving the deaf, is planning to seek a pardon over his conviction for drug smuggling which earned him a 10 year jail sentence.

Arriving with son, Lennie, 23, Stillman said "it's brilliant to be free again," adding his wife Sue would continue their work on two projects in Chennai and he hoped to return there himself one day.

Using sign language interpreted by his son, he read out a prepared statement thanking people for all their support and hard work over the last two years.

"I was in jail far, far longer than I thought I would have been," Stillman, who was arrested on charges of possessing 20 kilograms of cannabis in August 2000, said.

"I thought I would be freed after six months but it has taken just over two years." Stillman, who also lost a leg in a car crash, was freed from prison in Shimla, on Saturay after serving two years. He was released on health grounds, after personal intervention of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, but has not been acquitted.

Stephen Jacobi, of Fair Trials Abroad which campaigned for Stellman's release, was critical of Indian police and the British consular services.

He said police corruption and Stellman's disability combined to make it "an uncivilised disgrace" - one of the worst miscarriages of justice he had worked on.

© Hathway Investments Private Limited 2002