A retired geologist facing execution in Iraq has apologized to his family for missing his daughter’s wedding. Bath man Jim Fitton was ‘heartbroken’ he couldn’t give it away on his special day.
Instead, the 66-year-old had to make do with photographs of the celebrations. He remains locked up in Iraq, with the MP for Bath accusing the Foreign Office of “abandoning” him.
His daughter Leila, 31, and her husband Sam Tasker, 27, held a small ceremony – which was reserved for close friends and British family due to Covid – in their hometown of Bath, Somerset, last August . A bigger party with TV and film art department freelancer Leila’s extended family in Malaysia, where her father and mother Sarijah also live, took place on Friday and Sunday.
READ NEXT – Bath man fears for his life during ‘excruciating’ wait for ambulance
But Mr Fitton, who has lived in Malaysia for years but is originally from Bath, was forced to miss out – his family expecting legal proceedings against him to begin in Iraq this week. He was arrested after recovering stones and shards of broken pottery as souvenirs while visiting a site in Eridu, in the southeast of the country, during an organized geology and archeology tour in March, according to his family.
They said the items were later ruled as artifacts under Iraqi law and the charge against Mr Fitton states that “anyone who has exported or intended to export, willfully, an antiquity, d ‘Iraq, shall be liable to execution”. The family have renewed their appeal to foreign ministers to help free the father-of-two, with a petition garnering more than 124,000 signatures. Supporters also wrote letters to MPs in an attempt to increase pressure on the Foreign Office.
Jim Fitton’s wedding day message to his daughter
Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Tasker said of his stepfather: “He couldn’t give Leila; her brother had to kind of step in and give her away. He was visibly heartbroken and simply messaged us saying, “You all look great. Good luck. All my love to you all.
He said Mr Fitton, ‘as he has done all along’, has ‘put on a brave face and tried not to, really, which is contrary to the point because everything we think about , it’s him”. He added: “We sent him pictures and he noticed the house looked amazing, because Leila’s mum put in a lot of work to make the house beautiful and to organize and put up the flowers and everything. rest.”
Jim Fitton, pictured with his wife Sarijah, is a British expat who has lived in Malaysia for 40 years (Image: The Fitton family)
He continued: “He apologized for not being there as well, which is obviously out of his control. He seems to be fine and I think it was a really bittersweet moment for him; it’s nice to see the pictures and everything, but he would rather be with us, of course.”
Mr Tasker, who works in business support for an outsourcing firm, said a ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach had been taken to the celebrations. He also said: ‘We are doing everything we can to get political commitment from foreign ministers, really.
Foreign Office must act ‘before it’s too late’ to save Jim Fitton
Mr Tasker praised the support of staff at the UK Embassy in Iraq, but said they had “one hand tied behind their backs by political decision-making”. He added: “That’s what we need to change and that’s what we keep pushing for.”
The family is “grateful” for the support their campaign has received, Mr Tasker added. He said: “We just need to reach a critical mass of pressure on the Foreign Office before it’s too late. It’s a shame we have to approach it this way, but that’s the way it is. So we keep pushing because we can’t do anything else – and we don’t give up.
Foreign Secretary Amanda Milling previously said the UK had “expressed (its) concerns” to the Iraqi authorities “about the possible imposition of the death penalty in Mr Fitton’s case and the UK opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle”.
Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, said: ‘At the end of the day the Foreign Office always gives up on Jim. I don’t understand why they still refuse to help Jim. Ms Hobhouse added: ‘I will use every means possible to pressure the Foreign Office to intervene.
Read more related articles Read more related articles
More about this article: Read More
This notice was published: 2022-05-09 11:05:46