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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 21:49 GMT 22:49 UK
Drug charge sailor to stand trial
John Packwood
John Packwood will have to stand trial in a Moroccan court
A British yachtsman held in a Moroccan jail over drugs charges will face trial, a judge decided on Thursday.

John Packwood, 42, a marine engineer from the Isle Of Wight, faces charges of drug trafficking and association with criminals.

He was employed to deliver a yacht that was later used in a drug deal. He has always maintained his innocence.

Mr Packwood was held in a Spanish jail since October 2004, before being extradited to Morocco last month.

'Completely flummoxed'

On Thursday, a Moroccan judge ruled that Mr Packwood had a case to answer and ordered that a trial be held probably at the end of next month.

If convicted Mr Packwood could face up to 30 years in jail.

Mr Packwood's partner Jane Amestoy, 40, said: "Having received this news, it is really disappointing and confusing really.

"Our solicitor Jason McCue has seen the prosecution papers and he believes the Moroccan authorities have nothing against John.

"We are completely flummoxed."

Mr Packwood delivered a yacht with three other crew members from the UK to the purchasers in Morocco in April 1997.

Four Colombians later used the same boat for a deal involving six tones of cocaine.

Waiting game

They have since been convicted of smuggling.

Mr Packwood did not know that a warrant had been issued for his arrest until he arrived in Spain last October for a holiday.

Ms Amestoy added: "Well obviously, we are really disappointed, gutted, upset.

"But to be perfectly honest it hasn't come as a huge surprise.

"We knew that this whole situation was turning political and it's a machine you just can't fight.

"We all feel very flat at the prospect of having to live another six weeks waiting for a trial - it just goes on and on."

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