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The BBC's Jane Peel
"His lawyers believe he's an innocent victim of a clampdown on drugs"
 real 56k

Elspeth Dugdale, sister of Ian Stillman
"We feel that he has been very unfairly treated"
 real 28k

Fair Trials Abroad Director, Stephen Jakobi
"He was shut out of being able to give a proper defence"
 real 28k

Monday, 25 June, 2001, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Fury as deaf charity worker jailed
Ian Stillman
Ian Stillman "suffered gross miscarriage of justice"
Human rights campaigners are calling for the immediate release of a British man sentenced to 10 years in an Indian jail for drugs offences.

Ian Stillman, 50, a deaf charity worker who has lived in India for nearly 30 years, was arrested after cannabis was found in a taxi he had hired.

His lawyers say Stillman, who has a high profile in India and advises the Indian government on deaf issues, was the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.

Stillman, who has an artificial leg, is said to be suffering from the conditions in jail and his health is deteriorating.

It is the most horrific case I've ever seen of an innocent man being done down by law

Stephen Jakobi, Fair Trials Abroad
"It is the most horrific case I've ever seen of an innocent man being done down by law," Stephen Jakobi of Fair Trials Abroad told the BBC.

"It really is, and I have seen a lot over the years."

Stillman's sister Elspeth Dugdale said he was refused a sign language interpreter for his trial.

The trial was conducted in Hindi and Stillman, who does not speak Hindi, had to make do with lip-reading snatches of English translation from his lawyer, she said.

A summary of proceedings was later written in English by the judge but did not contain all the points in the trial.

Stillman wanted to give a statement in his defence but was limited to answering written questions, she said.

Concrete floor

Stillman, who comes from Reading in Berkshire, was arrested last August following a visit to Manali, a town in the Himalayan foothills in the state of Himachal Pradesh, where drug smuggling is common.

Elspeth Dugdale
Sister Elspeth Dugdale: Fears for Stillman's health
Police who stopped him at a roadblock say they found a bag in his taxi containing 20kg of cannabis resin.

Stillman said he had never seen the bag before.

Supporters say he was the innocent victim of a government crackdown on drug smugglers in the area.

Stillman is appealing the verdict.

Stillman has had to sleep on a concrete floor in jail and is unable to communicate with most of the other inmates.

The British High Commission says it is attempting to help Stillman on welfare grounds.

The Foreign Office said it has helped get him a transfer to a jail with better conditions, and had asked for him to be given a bed.

"We are pressing the Indians to get the appeal process started as quickly as possible. We want them to get cracking," a spokeswoman added.

Stillman is known throughout the world for his pioneering work for deaf people.

He moved to the country in the 1970s, and set up the Nambikkai Foundation which provides training, employment and education for deaf people in India in 1978.

His work was the subject of a BBC documentary in 1992.

Shortly after that he lost one leg below the knee in a road accident.

He has an Indian wife, Yesumani.

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See also:

04 Sep 00 | South Asia
India's valley of death
02 Sep 00 | South Asia
Briton describes Himalayan attack
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