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Patrick Malluzzo drug-smuggling appeal rejected

23 February 10 13:43 GMT

A British backpacker who was jailed in India for drug-smuggling has had his appeal to overturn the conviction rejected.

Former City worker Patrick Malluzzo, of Dartford, Kent, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2006 but has always maintained his innocence.

Cannabis was discovered in a bag found alongside another bag he lent to a friend while he was travelling.

His appeal was not upheld at the High Court of Rajasthan on Tuesday.

Teresa Malluzzo, Mr Malluzzo's mother, said: "For years we have prayed that our son would finally receive justice in the Indian courts and be allowed to come home to us a free man.

"We are devastated by today's decision and need some time to gather our thoughts."

'Hugely disappointed'

Jago Russell, Chief Executive of Fair Trials International, said: "Patrick has been through a horrendous ordeal since his arrest in 2004 and was convicted after a grossly unfair trial.

"We are hugely disappointed that, after forcing Patrick to wait years for an appeal, the Indian courts have failed to take the opportunity to right this miscarriage of justice."

A spokesman for the British High Commission in New Delhi said: "Patrick Malluzzo has appeared at the High Court today when his appeal was rejected. So there is no prospect of release."

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

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

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

He has 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.

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