Campaign for Briton 'unfairly' held in Spanish jail
7 March 2005, LONDON - Lawyers and relatives of a British yachtsman awaiting extradition from Spain on seven-year-old charges of cocaine smuggling will petition the king of Morocco to halt the process, saying the yachtsman is "patently innocent".
7 March 2005
LONDON - Lawyers and relatives of a British yachtsman awaiting extradition from Spain on seven-year-old charges of cocaine smuggling will petition the king of Morocco to halt the process, saying the yachtsman is "patently innocent".
John Packwood, 41, a marine engineer from the Isle of Wight, has spent four months in Valdemoro, a notorious jail near Madrid, waiting to hear if he will be extradited to face charges of smuggling cocaine into the port of Agadir in Morocco, British daily The Guardian reports.
Packwood was arrested in Malaga last October after Moroccan authorities issued an international warrant, saying a boat he had delivered to the port in 1997 was found to contain two tonnes of cocaine.
This was 10 weeks after an initial search had cleared Packwood, and he and his fellow crew members had returned to Britain.
Stephen Jakobi from the British campaign group Fair Trials Abroad, has written to the kings of Spain and Morocco asking officials to "discuss and resolve" the case during the Moroccan king's state visit to Spain.
King Mohammed VI is travelling to Madrid on Friday to pay homage to the victims of the March 11 attacks on the first anniversary of the terrorist bombings.
Joseph Borrell Fontelles, the president of the European parliament, has also written to the Moroccan ambassador in Brussels expressing "consternation" at Packwood's arrest, saying the warrant was issued in "extremely unusual circumstances".
Packwood's sister has delivered copies of the letters to the Spanish and Moroccan embassies in London.
In his letter, Jakobi said Packwood was "patently innocent of the crime he stands accused of".
"I have never seen such a nonsensical case," he said.
"There is no question of his innocence yet he is trapped in a Kafkaesque legal situation with no apparent hope of matters being resolved any time soon."
He said the extradition treaty between Spain and Morocco breached European law because it exempted Spanish and Moroccan citizens.
Packwood and three other men were delivering a privately owned boat from Southampton to Morocco when engine failure and storms forced them to shelter in Agadir.
The boat was searched and cleared and Packwood flew back to the UK with the others. Henry Stableford, Oliver Bennet, and Colin Bocquillon, all from the Isle of Wight.
Ten weeks later, after several tonnes of cocaine were allegedly found on the vessel during a second search, Interpol interviewed the crew but took no action.
But unknown to the men, international arrest warrants were issued and Mr Packwood was arrested when he flew to Malaga on 15 October.
The other three yachtsmen are facing arrest under similar Moroccan warrants. This is despite reports in the official Moroccan news agency Map naming an unidentified "Spaniard" as masterminding the smuggling operation.
Packwood said he was held without food and water for hours, denied the use of a telephone for two days, and allowed a change of clothes only after 18 days.
If he is extradited to stand trial in Morocco and found guilty he faces a prison term of up to 30 years.
His sister Catherine Packwood, 40, who is working with his partner Jane Amestoy to secure his release, said that the extradition paperwork from Morocco clearly stated that the drugs were being trafficked from Colombia to Las Palmas, Spain, via Morocco, and that the offence occurred in June 1997.
Her brother had delivered the boat from Southampton to Morocco in April, after which he had not returned to the country.
Subject: Spanish news