Man jailed in India over drugs allowed to return to UK

A British backpacker who was jailed in India for drugs offences has been granted approval by Indian authorities to serve the remainder of his sentence in the UK, campaigners said today.

Former City worker Patrick Malluzzo, from Dartford, Kent, was handed a 10-year jail term in 2006 following a "grossly unfair trial".



The 33-year-old was arrested two years earlier for possession of cannabis after he gave a bag to a friend to look after.



During his time in tough Kota prison in Rajasthan he has suffered serious illnesses and been forced to share a cell with more than 50 other inmates.



The Indian ministry of home affairs has now granted approval for Malluzzo to serve the rest of his jail term in Britain, Fair Trials International (FTI) said.



FTI legal case worker Wafa Shah said: "The Indian authorities have granted Patrick's request to be removed back to Britain and now it is up to the British Ministry of Justice to process that through.



"That can take any amount of time but we are hoping that the fact that the Indian authorities have acted quickly, that his application will also be processed quickly in Britain."



FTI has supported Malluzzo after he was convicted at a trial conducted entirely in Hindi and which presented no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking him to the drugs.



His father Salvatore Malluzzo told BBC Radio Kent: "We are disappointed that he is not coming home with his name cleared.



"But we hope that the British Government do the honourable thing and get him home in weeks rather than months."



Malluzzo's nightmare began after he arranged for a final backpacking trip before returning to Britain to settle down with his girlfriend.



He met up with an old acquaintance and Malluzzo indicated to him that he would like to travel to Goa with him, although no firm plans were made.



His companion booked two tickets to Goa via Mumbai. But Malluzzo then decided to stay on in Rajasthan and meet his companion in Goa later.



As Malluzzo wanted to travel light, he asked his friend to take with him a bag of his dirty washing, which also contained a prescription in his name.



The pair then went their separate ways but Malluzzo later received a phone call saying his friend had lost his bags after jumping off a train to get some food.



Train staff found three bags on and under seats where Malluzzo and his friend had reservations, and a large quantity of cannabis resin was found.



Malluzzo was arrested at Mumbai airport in January 2004 and charged with possession of cannabis as he was about to fly to Thailand.



A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said they were aware of the latest developments in the case and were providing consular assistance.

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