Pardoned Briton Protests Innocence Over Middle East Drugs Conviction
A British headmistress released early from a Middle East jail sentence arrived home Tuesday protesting she had served two years for a drug-smuggling offence she had not committed.
Lynn Majakas, 45, tearfully told reporters at London's Heathrow airport after being pardoned and released from imprisonment in the United Arab Emirates: "I've done two years and two months for something I didn't do."
Fellow-Briton Ian Bamling, 31, arrested with her in 1998, also arrived back and said: "After two years and two months in inhumane conditions I want to go and sleep and spend some time with my family."
Majakas, former headteacher of a school near London, and Bamling, a social worker, were caught with bottles of alcohol and a small amount of cannabis, and each sentenced to four and a half years.
The two claimed drug substances found in their luggage had belonged to a British friend who had lent them a bag.
It was understood both had been pardoned to coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Majakas, former head of Bedelsford special needs school in Kingston upon Thames, south west London, was held in Wathba jail where she slept on concrete floors and had to wash in showers which doubled as toilets.
"There were 145 of us on that floor," she said.
"I didn't want to leave any of them there - I wanted to bring them all back with me.
"There were some lovely, lovely people.
Majakas and Bamling were detained in October 1998 at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Ian Bamling said here of his release: "It's like a dream come true.
"I'm pretty overwhelmed at the moment. I haven't slept for 48 hours."
Some 237 other prisoners were pardoned by the UAE President, Sheikh Zayed Ben Sultan al-Nahyan.
Six further British nationals were arrested in the UAE in November for suspected drug offences which could be punished by death -- LONDON (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)