[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 November 2006, 17:03 GMT
Sailor released from Italian jail
Henry Stableford
Henry Stableford, 31, was arrested in Italy last month
An Isle of Wight man held in Italy under a Moroccan arrest warrant for an alleged 270m cocaine smuggling plot has been released from jail.

Henry Stableford, 31, from Cowes, was detained at the start of October.

But at an extradition hearing on Wednesday the Italian judge dismissed Mr Stableford's case and he was freed.

His family and friends had feared he would be extradited to Morocco in connection with a crime he says he had nothing to do with.

James Stableford, Mr Stableford's brother, said: "We are delighted by this news.

This international warrant needs to be voided immediately
Jason McCue, solicitor

"It has been a desperate time for Henry and our family. We want to thank everyone for their help, encouragement, and support.

"We are relieved the Italian courts saw sense."

Jason McCue, Mr Stableford's solicitor added: "Henry will not be needlessly extradited from Italy to Morocco for a crime he did not commit.

"Our concern now is that he has a clear passage through the airport as this international arrest warrant may still be in force.

"This international warrant needs to be voided immediately so that Henry, an innocent man, can get on with his life and feel free to travel."

The warrant dates back to 1997 when Mr Stableford was part of a four-man crew who delivered a former Royal Navy cutter from Southampton to Morocco.

Girlfriend's delight

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

One of Mr Stableford's crewmates, John Packwood, 43, from Cowes, was arrested in Spain in 2004 on the same warrant and spent 13 months in jail in Spain and Morocco awaiting a trial that never took place.

In November last year, Mr Packwood was pardoned by Moroccan King Mohammed VI.

The boat's four-man crew, including Mr Stableford and Mr Packwood, were interviewed by police at the time and no further action was taken.

In Cowes, Mr Stableford's girlfriend Sara Budden, 38, said she was delighted at the news.

Living in fear of arrest abroad
15 Nov 06 |  Hampshire
Sailor held in Italy over cocaine
13 Nov 06 |  Hampshire
Drug charge sailor returns home
18 Nov 05 |  Hampshire
Drug charge sailor finally freed
17 Nov 05 |  Hampshire
Yachtsman waits on trial decision
24 Oct 05 |  Hampshire

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific