Page last updated at 10:40 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 11:40 UK

MP seeks help for drugs jail man

Patrick Malluzzo
Patrick Malluzzo was sentenced to 10 years in an Indian jail

The government has agreed to look into the case of a man from Kent who has spent more than four years in an Indian jail for smuggling cannabis.

Patrick Malluzzo, 31, from Dartford, has been waiting since 2006 for a date to appeal against his 10-year sentence.

Local Labour MP Dr Howard Stoate raised his plight in the Commons on Tuesday.

Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell offered to discuss the case further and promised to consider the MP's request for a consular presence at the appeal.

Mr Malluzzo was first arrested in 2004 but has always maintained his innocence.

'False confession'

He was found guilty in July 2006 of smuggling 42lbs (19kg) of cannabis, and is being held in Kota Central Jail, in Rajasthan.

He was jailed after police discovered 35 packs of hashish in bags left on a train.

Among the bags was a holdall allegedly belonging to Mr Malluzzo, even though he was not on board.

But his parents, Salvatore and Theresa Malluzzo, have said the bag was not his, and their son was forced to sign a false confession.

Theresa and Salvatore Malluzzo
Mr and Mrs Malluzzo claim their son was forced to sign a false confession

Dr Stoate, who first took up Mr Malluzzo's case after his initial arrest, made reference in the Commons to his lengthy wait for an appeal and expressed his concern about the handling of the trial and his treatment while in jail.

Speaking to BBC Radio Kent, he said he believed his constituent was being unfairly treated.

"He's now been waiting well over two years for an appeal date to be set, and I think frankly that is unsatisfactory.

"The way he is being treated in prison also leaves a lot to be desired and his health has certainly suffered," he said.

"I believe the trial will find him innocent and I don't believe there is any sound evidence against him, and I think he should come home as soon as possible."


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