Page last updated at 00:51 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 01:51 UK

Appeal hope for jailed backpacker

Patrick Malluzzo
Patrick Malluzzo's family say he is in poor health

Supporters of a British backpacker they say was wrongly jailed in India for drug smuggling hope he could be freed at an appeal court hearing.

Lawyers representing Patrick Malluzzo, from Dartford on the London/Kent border, say his case is due to start in the state of Rajasthan on Monday.

The 32-year-old former City worker has been in prison in India since 2004.

He was jailed for 10 years after cannabis was found in a bag he had lent to a friend while travelling.

His supporters, including Ann Widdecombe MP, have always insisted he is innocent and said he was refused an interpreter throughout his trial.

Today represents a crucial test for the Indian justice system, an opportunity to prove to the world that they can right this miscarriage of justice
Jago Russell, Fair Trials International

Ms Widdecombe, a former shadow home secretary, recently wrote to the Chief Justice of Rajasthan asking for the appeal to be made "an absolute priority".

Mr Malluzzo's parents have re-mortgaged the family home to help pay their legal bills and the case has been taken up by the charity Fair Trials International.

Its chief executive Jago Russell said: "After a grossly unfair trial, Patrick Malluzzo has already spent years in an Indian jail waiting for his appeal to be heard.

"Today represents a crucial test for the Indian justice system, an opportunity to prove to the world that they can right this miscarriage of justice."

Sleep deprivation

Mr Malluzzo was backpacking in India in 2004 when a friend took his bag from Rajasthan to Goa so he could travel light.

The friend accidentally left three bags, including Mr Malluzzo's luggage, on a train. They were found to contain about 42 lbs (19 kg) of cannabis resin.

Mr Malluzzo says the first he knew about it was when he was arrested at Mumbai airport as he tried to leave India.

He maintained his innocence but claims he confessed after police burned him with cigarettes, beat him and subjected him to sleep deprivation.

The prosecution at the trial, which was conducted only in Hindi, decided not to use the "confessions".

His mother Teresa Malluzzo said: "We are very concerned about Patrick's health.

"My husband went out there for two weeks at the end of July and he said Patrick was very pale, he is anaemic and has got problems with his teeth.

"He's also had malaria."

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