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A British couple locked up abroad have been put in a mosquito-infested “hell hole” prison where even the water has to be paid for.
Simon Wood was arrested on money-laundering charges in Zanzibar alongside his wife Francesca Scalfari after falling out with the investors who helped finance a hotel they were developing.
Simon’s family say police shaved the 51-year-old's head as soon as they arrested him, and shoved him in a cell with 200 other inmates, many of them dangerous criminals serving sentences for violent offences including murder.
Simon’s mum, Christine Wood, from Preston, Lancs., says she's "concerned" for his welfare.
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Christine said: “I am very concerned for my son Simon and his Italian wife Francesca who are starting their third week of imprisonment in Zanzibar.
“Now they have been accused of money laundering but are at a loss to know why.
“For them, paradise has quickly turned to hell and until the court declares them 'not guilty' they remain in jail.”
Francesca’s uncle Jim Betteridge, 62, a British ex-pat living in Tuscany, Italy, added Simon and Francesca are being kept in “primitive” conditions.
He said: “A hell hole would be a fairly accurate description.
“There’s no food or water provided, they have to buy their water – and any food that’s brought in is poked around and probed by the guards.
“It’s very hot in there, full of mosquitos and it’s not somewhere where you’d want to see your worst enemy, frankly. To call it primitive would be complimentary.”
Jim said the couple, who own multiple businesses on the island and employ roughly 60 people, believed their legal troubles were behind them a few years ago.
However, on June 7 they were suddenly arrested by police and thrown in a local jail where they've been kept ever since.
He said: “I don’t think anybody knows how this now settled and finished civil matter has been dug up again and turned into this criminal state prosecution affair.
“And it’s all blown up in the last month and a half, really, when everything was well behind them.”
The couple made their first appearance in court yesterday (June 22) and were charged with money laundering – which reportedly carries a maximum penalty of 20 years behind bars.
Jim says Simon and Francesca could easily prove their innocence if they could only get out on bail “but from inside they can’t, so they’re frustrated. It’s not a nice thing to look at.”
The president of Zanzibar, Hussein Mwinyi, is scheduled to attend a local investment forum today (June 23) where protests against the couple's detention are expected.
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesperson confirmed they were assisting a British national currently jailed in Tanzania, but declined to give any further details.
They said: “We are supporting a British National detained in Tanzania and are in contact with the local authorities."
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- Prison News
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