Petition hand-in for 70-year-old British man jailed in Iraq after 15-minute court hearing

Petition to embassy in London comes three years after Ramze Shihab Ahmed’s arrest

Amnesty International is set to deliver a petition to the Iraq embassy in London tomorrow (7 December, at 10am) demanding justice in the case of a 70-year-old British man serving a 15-year prison sentence in Iraq after receiving an unfair trial earlier this year.

The 12,000-signature petition is calling for a fair appeal for Ramze Shihab Ahmed, a dual Iraqi-UK national sentenced in June after a Baghdad court hearing lasting only 15 minutes.

The lengthy prison sentence was the latest twist in a long-running ordeal for Mr Ahmed, a refugee from Iraq who has lived in the UK since 2002. Ahmed was originally arrested in Iraq three years ago this Friday, after visiting the country to secure the release of his own son, who had himself been detained.

After his 7 December 2009 arrest, Ahmed was held in a secret prison near Baghdad. During this time, when his whereabouts were completely unknown to his family, he alleges he was tortured - including with electric shocks to his genitals and suffocation by plastic bags - into making a false “confession” relating to terrorist offences. This confession was used in his conviction on 20 June, where he was found guilty of “funding terrorist groups”.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Our petition is a strong show of support for a man who’s been treated abominably by the Iraqi justice system.

“The Iraqi authorities need to ensure that Ramze receives a proper appeal, including a rejection of any evidence obtained under torture.

“There needs to be a proper investigation into allegations that Ramze was tortured at the start of his three-year ordeal.”

Amnesty has obtained and examined court documents and believes that Ramze Shihab Ahmed’s trial was grossly unfair. At his June trial - which was actually the ninth in a series of trials (he had been acquitted in each of the earlier ones) - Mr Ahmed’s lawyer was denied the opportunity to challenge the prosecution’s case, to cross-examine prosecution witnesses or to call his own witnesses.

The court also failed to exclude from the proceedings a “confession” of Ahmed’s, despite longstanding allegations that this was extracted under torture. The court also relied on information provided by a secret informant, with Ahmed’s lawyer denied an opportunity to challenge this information. In addition, statements - also allegedly extracted from an individual under torture and other ill-treatment - were considered in the trial proceedings. 

Ramze Shihab Ahmed’s case is part of Amnesty International UK’s Write for Rights campaign, the organisation’s annual action and solidarity initiative on behalf people around the world who are suffering human rights abuses. For more information, see: www.amnesty.org.uk/ramze /p>

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