Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Man freed after Peru prison ordeal

British grandfather Alan Rae is to return home after being wrongfully imprisoned in Peru (PA)

A British grandfather wrongly imprisoned for drug smuggling following a holiday in Peru has finally been cleared of the charges and freed to return home.

Alan Rae, 40, was arrested after his travel companion, Nathan Brandon, was found carrying cocaine when they were stopped at Lima Airport in April 2009.

Mr Rae was convicted along with his friend but he has now been released and relatives hope he will return to Britain in time for his daughter Lorna's 15th birthday on Sunday and the birth of his second grandchild.

Though Brandon took full responsibility for the drug offence, father-of-two Mr Rae spent more than two years in appalling conditions in a Peruvian jail.

"This is the best birthday present our daughter has ever had," his partner Lynn Rae said. "The house is so happy. We love him to bits and can't wait to get him home."

Mr Rae, from Oxford, was given a 14-year jail term following a trial earlier this year. At the time, the innocent holiday-maker had already spent nearly two years in custody and missed the birth of his first grandchild.

His acquittal on appeal - three months after his conviction - followed a lengthy campaign for his release.

Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials International (FTI), hailed the court ruling which finally granted him freedom.

"Alan has always maintained his innocence and we are thrilled that the courts have finally agreed," he said. "An acquittal of this kind in a drugs case in Peru is extremely rare and we are grateful to the authorities for giving this case the careful attention it deserved. After a horrific ordeal, at last Alan can return home to his family an innocent man."

FTI worked with local pro bono and private counsel and with the Public Defender's Office to ensure he was represented in court and that his evidence could be admitted and heard.

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