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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 11:09 GMT
Hope for Spanish drug charge man
The family of a man held in a Spanish prison on drug smuggling charges say they are hoping for a breakthrough.

John Lauder Packwood, 41, from the Isle of Wight, was arrested on a Moroccan warrant while in Spain in October.

He delivered a yacht to Morocco in 1997 which was later used for smuggling, of which he says he knew nothing. The warrant was issued seven years later.

Pressure group Fair Trials Abroad has been meeting officials in Morocco and will speak publicly on Thursday.

This case would appear to be a blatant abuse of the International Arrest warrants system by the Moroccan authorities
Fair Trials Abroad spokesman
Mr Packwood was arrested in Malaga under an international arrest warrant issued by the Moroccan authorities.

Similar warrants were also issued for the rest of the crew.

Mr Packwood was recruited by the boat's owners via the Crewfinder website to transport it from Southampton to Morocco.

On arrival in Morocco the yacht was checked over by customs officials and they were all allowed to leave.

Three months later it was stopped with two tonnes of cocaine on board.

Interpol investigated and questioned all who had had any involvement with the boat including Mr Packwood.

'Abuse of process'

Fair Trials Abroad say they have several concerns about the case, firstly of which is the issuing of the arrest warrant so long after the alleged crime.

"This case would appear to be a blatant abuse of the International Arrest warrants system by the Moroccan authorities," a spokesman said.

"No attempt was made to execute the warrant in the UK where a challenge could be made as to the validity of the warrant.

"Executing a foreign arrest warrant seven years after issue is simply an abuse of process."

The spokesman said that drugs are almost never smuggled from the UK to Africa, rather than the other way round.

Four MEPs for south east England - Peter Skinner (Labour), Baroness Nicholson (Lib Dem), Daniel Hannen (Conservative) and Caroline Lucas (Green) - have signed a letter stating they believe Mr Packwood is innocent.

Sailor's Spanish jail nightmare
26 Nov 04 |  Hampshire

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