Briton jailed over heroin faces retrial

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH woman who tried to smuggle heroin out of Pakistan is facing the possibility of a further 10 years in a Karachi jail - despite having already served her prison sentence.

The Foreign Office is investigating the case of Rosemarie Morley, 31, a single mother. She was due to return to Britain earlier this month after her time in prison. Her treatment at the hands of the Pakistani authorities, who plan to try her again for the same crime, is a violation of human rights, international law and Pakistan's constitution, say British legal campaigners.

Ms Morley and her boyfriend, Markus Mifad, both from London, were caught at Karachi airport with 2.8kg of heroin each in July last year. The drugs were hidden in the mechanism of their suitcases.

Although the couple insisted they did not know what the packages in their luggage contained, they pleaded guilty to smuggling the drugs, believing their sentences would be lighter. Ms Morley, who suffers from clinical depression, was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison but had been due for early release on 11 December, after winning remission for teaching English to children in Karachi Juvenile Jail where she is held.

In September this year she learnt that she was to be charged again over the same incident, but this time with possession of drugs, rather than smuggling.

Rana Shamim, her legal representative in Karachi, said the charges had been brought under a new Pakistani law, which allows for someone who has been convicted of drug smuggling to be charged with possession and the case registered a second time.

Mr Shamim said: "We are challenging this in the High Court as a direct violation of the constitution. This law has not yet been tested but it contravenes article 13a of the constitution, which says no person shall be prosecuted or punished for the same crime more than once."

Stephen Jakobi, founder of Fair Trials Abroad, which is campaigning on Ms Morley's behalf, said: "It is established in British and international law that a person cannot be tried again for the same offence."

He added that other British nationals and Europeans had suffered similar miscarriages of justice in Pakistan. "I am particularly concerned for Rosemarie Morley because I understand she has been clinically depressed and because she is a single parent," he said. "But there are others."

Ms Morley's eight-year-old son, Matthew, has been staying with his grandparents Eric and Lorna in London. The family had expected her to be home for Christmas. Mr Morley, 67, said: "She is a bit headstrong, but she is a good girl, a good mother.

"We were all geared up to having her home. Then weheard about this other girl who pleaded guilty a second time, thinking it would get it over with, and got 10 years.

"We are afraid this might happen to Rosemarie. "

A second British national, Mark Cornish, 37, also convicted of smuggling heroin, could face a second charge despite, having already served 18 months in jail.

His mother, Shirley Dunning, from Carshalton in Surrey, said: "He was sentenced to four years but got remission.

"I phoned the consulate to try to get a release date and they said, `Don't bother. As soon as he is released he will be rearrested'."

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware of the cases of Rosemarie Morley and Mark Cornish. We do not believe that it is good criminal justice practice to try two similar offences arising out of the same facts separately.

"We need to determine exactly what Rosemarie and Mark are charged with and if and how these charges differ from the previous charges and also why they are now being charged with these offences."