International News

British man released from Moroccan jail

Besi Besemar October 8, 2014

A British trourist held in a Moroccan jail for allegedly committing homosexual acts likened the conditions in the jail to a “concentration camp” on his release yesterday.

Family reunion at Gatwick
Family reunion at Gatwick

RAY COLE, 69, was arrested on September 18 at a bus stop in Marrakech with local man, Jamal Jam Wald Nass, with whom he had struck up an online relationship over the previous months.

The Moroccan police allegedly found explicit images on their mobile phones providing evidence of “homosexual acts”, which are illegal in Morocco, a predominantly Muslim country. The authorities then searched Mr Cole’s Facebook and email accounts for corroborating evidence.

An initial trial was adjourned because Mr Cole had neither legal representation nor a translator. However, he was eventually tried and found guilty of “homosexual acts” on October 2 and sentenced to four months in prison.

On Monday, Mr Cole’s son Adrian launched a campaign for his retired father’s release and set up an online petition. He was worried about his father’s health, which includes a history of heart problems and a stroke. He was also concerned with the conditions that Mr Cole was experiencing as he was forced to sleep on a concrete floor during his time in prison.

Adrian told the Guardian newspaper, following the decision to release Mr Cole: “It’s all happened much quicker than we could have ever hoped. I just received a call from the consulate saying he is about to board a British Airways flight to London.

“We are incredibly relieved. It seems as though the authorities there responded to the fact that we had gone through all the proper channels, lodging an appeal and working with the ambassador.”

A statement released by the family yesterday confirmed that Cole was boarding a flight from Marrakech to Gatwick.

It said:“We would like to thank everyone here and in Morocco who has helped our campaign to secure the release of our wonderful father. And we would like to thank the Moroccan authorities for showing clemency and compassion.”

On his arrival at Gatwick last night, Tuesday, October 7, Cole said his experience had been a “total nightmare”.

He said: “I am so relieved, I can’t tell you. I never thought I was going to get out.

When asked what was it like in prison, he said: “You would not believe, it’s horrendous, it’s not a prison, it’s a concentration camp, people are in there from the age of 10 to their 80s and 90s for nothing. It was a total nightmare. I have seen things that I thought never existed.”

Cole, who is on conditional release, confirmed he would not be going back to Morocco.

There is no news of the whereabouts of Cole’s Moroccan friend Jamal Jam Wald Nass.