Deaf aid worker appeals over drug sentence

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The Independent Online

A charity worker feted in India for setting up a foundation for the deaf is to appeal against a 10-year jail term for drug possession.

Ian Stillman is also deaf and has an artificial leg but he has been forced to sleep on a concrete floor in cramped conditions and his family say his health is deteriorating.

He was sentenced earlier this month after being arrested last year with a 20 kilogram bag of cannabis in the foothills of the Himalayas at Manali, a popular staging post for mountain trekkers.

His taxi was stopped at a roadblock after visiting a friend and police claimed to have found the cannabis in the car. Mr Stillman said he had never seen it before.

In 1978 Mr Stillman, originally from Reading, Berkshire, set up the Nambikkai Foundation, which provides training, employment and education for deaf people in India. He is also an adviser to the Indian government on deaf issues.

His brother-in-law, Jerry Dugdale, said Mr Stillman's trial was unjust and he should be freed. "We make this submission in the light of Ian's international reputation and his sacrifice for the deaf of India, of whom he is one," he said.

Stephen Jakobi, of campaign group Fair Trials Abroad, said: "This is a man who is known around the world for his work and it is unbelievable what has happened to him."