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Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 07:23 GMT
World Cup hope for Japan prisoner
Patrick Loughlin
Patrick Loughlin has always protested his innocence
A legal deal ahead of the World Cup could see a north Wales man jailed in Japan for manslaughter returned to the UK to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

Patrick Loughlin, 33, from Wrexham, was sentenced to four years' hard labour for killing a man during a brawl but claims he was wrongly convicted.

Glenys Kinnock MEP
Glenys Kinnock: Meeting

With the World Cup looming - the 2002 tournament is shared between Japan and South Korea - the Japanese Parliament is currently considering signing the Council of Europe convention on the transfer of prisoners.

It means people convicted of offences such as football hooliganism can be transferred home to complete their prison sentences.

The points were clarified during a meeting between Welsh MEP Glenys Kinnock and Japan's ambassador to Brussels - Naoto Nikai.

As far as English football hooligans convicted in Japan would be concerned, it means they too could serve their prison sentences in Britain.

Mr Loughlin friend and campaigner, Mike Hurst, said this was the best news they have had for ages.

Kathleen Loughlin
Kathleen Loughlin: Claims guards beat her son

Mr Loughlin was working in Kariya, Japan, when he was involved in a bar brawl in which a man died.

His supporters, who include Mrs Kinnock and her fellow MEP, Eluned Morgan, claim he was wrongly convicted after his Japanese lawyer, who could not speak English, entered a guilty plea on his behalf.

Mr Louglin appealed against the conviction but that was turned down in October 2001 by the Japanese Supreme Court although it did cut his sentence by 15 months to two years and nine months.

A civil case against Mr Loughlin's original lawyer is also going ahead and his family are also hopeful that they will win that case, and a retrial will be ordered.

Win freedom

Although there is no promise that Mr Loughlin would come home if the treaty is signed, Mr Hurst believes it would not look right to send home convicted football hooligans - but not Mr Loughlin.

Mr Loughlin's parents have been at the forefront of a campaign to win his freedom, and last September lobbied Foreign Office Minister Baroness Amos.

His mother Kathleen said her son was beaten by prison guards when he was kept at the Nagoya Detention Centre before he started his sentence.


More news from north east Wales
See also:

16 Oct 01 | Wales
10 Sep 01 | Wales
03 Jul 00 | UK
20 May 01 | Middle East
03 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
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