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Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Australian citizen Robert Pether has now spent 1,000 days in an Iraqi prison on fraud charges, a detention criticized by the UN as arbitrary.

Pether, a mechanical engineer who traveled to Iraq for a project at the Central Bank headquarters in Baghdad, was jailed in 2021 after a contract dispute with his employer led to accusations of stealing money from the bank’s project.

Despite a 2022 UN report deeming Pether’s detention as violating international law and highlighting “abusive and coercive” interrogations, he remains behind bars. Pether, who has lost a significant amount of weight during his imprisonment, is now facing deteriorating health, prompting urgent pleas from his family and lawyer for the Australian government to secure his release.

Desree Pether, Robert’s wife, expressed concerns that her husband may not survive the ordeal and fears he might never reunite with their children Flynn, Oscar, and Nala. The family’s emotional struggle has been compounded by three Christmases spent without Robert. His lawyer, Peter Griffin, argues that recent findings by the International Chamber of Commerce’s Court of Arbitration, which ruled against Iraq’s central bank, undermine the justification for Pether’s continued incarceration.

Griffin contends that Iraq may be holding Pether in the hopes of gaining financial leverage, urging the Australian government to intensify efforts for his release. While Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade asserts consistent advocacy for Pether’s rights, they stress the inability to interfere in another country’s legal processes. As Pether’s case remains under scrutiny, international attention on the matter continues to grow.

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