A British citizen could spend up to 20 years in Africa if he is wealthy “hell hole”After being charged with money laundering, the accused is sentenced to prison.
Simon Wood (51), was placed in jail on the Indian Ocean island off the coast East Africa after he was arrested together with Francesca Scalfari (45) just two weeks earlier.
They are being held in a “hell hole”After being accused of money laundering, a Zanzibar cop sentenced them to prison.
According to his family, police cut his hair when he was taken into custody. They then put him in a cell along with 200 other dangerous prisoners including murderers.
They claimed that the couple have been denied basic necessities, including water access. Their relatives were also not allowed to visit them in jail on multiple occasions.
According to people close to the couple, their arrest is connected to lawsuits against them from ex-investors in their hotel The Sharazad Boutique. These lawsuits date back to 2017.
These matters were eventually settled in favor of Simon and Francesca. They are now “at a loss”To explain why criminal charges were brought against us earlier in the month.
Under local laws, prisoners can be kept in jail for eight month without trial, and Simon’s mum, Christine Wood, from Preston, Lancashire, says she’s worried for his welfare.
She 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 stated: “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 explained that Simon was originally from Preston, Lancs. He had arrived on the island 20 years ago and met Francesca. They had their son, Luca.
This archipelago is under the control of Tanzania. It is famous for its warm weather, soft sandy beaches, and attracts approximately 500,000 tourists each year.
The pair later decided to turn their beachside home into a 30-room boutique hotel, with £200-a-night ocean view villas, a restaurant and swimming pool.
Jim stated that after they were finished “fell out”They had two investors who invested money in the business. The couple spent many years fighting civil cases in the local courts.
He said: “Another Italian couple who are involved in NGOs on the mainland invested money with them and became partners, and they created the hotel together.
“And then they fell out, many years ago now, and for three to five years, there were civil cases going on.
“But Francesca and Simon won three civil cases against their ex-partners”
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 – believed to carry a maximum penalty of 20 years.
And Jim says while their families are being assisted by officials from both Italy and Britain, the couple are suffering due to the awful conditions in their separate jails.
He said: “They’ve both lost weight and are evidently uncomfortable and upset, obviously.
“The jail is ramshackle to put it mildly. Simon is in a series of rooms with 200 convicted prisoners and is sleeping on the floor on a mattress.
“Francesca is in a room with about 20 people. They had no water for two days and two nights – and you can only imagine what that would do for one person, let alone 20.”
Jim insists the pair could prove their innocence, but says this is hard to achieve as they’re currently unable to get bail.
He said: “Were they allowed out they would be able to prove their innocence in no time at all.
“But from inside they can’t, so they’re frustrated. It’s not a nice thing to look at.”
It’s understood the president of Zanzibar, Hussein Mwinyi, will attend a local investment forum today (June 23) where he could recieve criticism for the couple’s detainment.
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.”