Briton sentenced to 15 years in Iraq for artefact smuggling

STORY: Iraqi authorities had arrested James Fitton, 66, at Baghdad International Airport in March for carrying small fragments of ancient pottery in his baggage.

A German man arrested alongside Fitton for also carrying pottery fragments, Volker Waldmann, was acquitted of the same charges.

"He (Waldmann) had no criminal intent. He did not pick up any antiquities from the places he visited. But his colleague (companion) James, the British national, gave him the pieces and asked him to give them back later," Waldmann's lawyer, Furat Kuba, told Reuters.

The Baghdad Criminal Court sentenced Fitton for taking the artefacts from a heritage site in southern Iraq and attempting to transport them out of the country "with criminal intent", according to one judicial source - an offence normally punishable by death under Iraqi law.

Fitton's lawyer said he was shocked by the verdict, and that Fitton did not know that the pottery fragments were considered artefacts.

Fitton will appeal the verdict on the grounds that there was no criminal intent, he said.