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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Freed Briton 'considered suicide'
Les Walker
Les Walker said he knew nothing about an alcohol turf war
A man who was jailed in Saudi Arabia for his alleged part in a bombing campaign has told how he considered suicide while being held in solitary confinement for 13 months.

Les Walker, of Merseyside, was among six Britons freed on a Royal pardon last month after being accused of taking part in a turf war over bootleg alcohol.

He said he was beaten by Saudi officials and frequently heard the screams of fellow prisoners who he believed were being tortured.

The 57-year-old, of Neston, Wirral, added a confession he gave on Saudi television was broadcast despite his interrogators insisting it was solely for the eyes of Prince Nayif.

There were times that I wanted to top myself, but that's the coward's way out
Les Walker
Mr Walker said: "I had nothing to do with bombs. I was never accused of being involved in a booze war either.

"I did drink in Saudi Arabia, I did make my own home-made beer and wine for my own use, but there was no booze war going on.

"The night they started interrogating me I knew then that I'd been set up by these people, they wanted somebody.

"I was beaten, there was a lot of mental torture and pressure. I was chained by one hand to a door of the cell.

"After 13 months, you don't like your own company. There were times that I wanted to top myself, but that's the coward's way out."

Campaigners, including pressure group Fair Trials Abroad, have questioned the safety of Mr Walker's conviction.

But the Saudi authorities insist he is guilty, and have pointed to televised confessions made by Mr Walker and the other prisoners - which were later retracted - as evidence.

'Over the moon'

Mr Walker said: "I didn't know that we were being put on television. I was told that we were making a video solely for Prince Nayif."

He said he was "over the moon" when told he would be released, but says his battle is far from over.

"It's going to take a long time to get back to what it used to be," he said. "I only hope the family can suffer me while I put the pieces together."

When asked if he could forgive his captors, he added: "No, not now. Ask me again in a few months or a year or two's time."

The Saudi embassy in London has said all of the men had regular access to visitors, stayed in air conditioned rooms and also had access to lawyers, exercise facilities and a wide choice of food.

Les Walker talks to the BBC's Ross McWilliam
"I heard the tortures, I heard the screams. It happened to me."

Family overjoyed at father's release
09 Aug 03  |  Merseyside
Freed Britons 'traumatised'
08 Aug 03  |  Manchester

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