A young Scot will spend another 20 days in a Greek jail cell before finding out whether he is is being sent to the Middle East to face a year in prison on drugs charges.
Conor Howard’s Step-dad Robert has told the Daily Record he was denied bail at a court hearing in Corfu today, as he faces the wait to hear if he will be extradited to Qatar after a court in the capital of Doha charged him with being in possession of a narcotic substance in October last year.
Yesterday we told how the 27-year-old Edinburgh man, was who was living and working in Australia in 2019, told his family he was initially arrested at Qatar airport on October 17 2019, as he made his way back to the UK, after officials caught him with a cannabis grinder.
He was taken to the Doha court to face charges, but his family claim was then told he was ‘free to go’.
They deny he had any drugs in his possession.
But when travelling to visit his mum in Corfu for a family break on August 29, he was picked up by Greek police and detained on a form of international arrest warrant called an Interpol ‘red notice’.
The news of Connor’s bail refusal comes as a leading human rights advocate and a former Scottish justice secretary join the fight for his release.
Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai, an organisation that campaigns against judicial abuse in the United Arab Emirates and Gulf region, and East Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill, have both announced they are supporting Conor’s plight.
A statement from Ms Stirling read: “This is concerning, as clearly Conor would be subjected to a legal system that falls far below international standards of due process, and human rights violations are well documented in Qatar’s detention centres.”
Mr MacAskill added: “This is an abuse of a vital legal process and must be opposed.
“It undermines the entire system which as a former Justice Secretary support and understand.
“It is not meant for minor transgressions and certainly nothing as trivial as this.
“I will be asking the Foreign Secretary to intervene as a matter of urgency so that Conor can come home.”
Papers seen by the Record show an form of international arrest warrant called an Interpol ‘red notice’ was issued in July stating that Connor is a ‘fugitive’.
The documents confirm that Conor was charged with being in possession of ‘Narcottic substance Indian Hemp’ on October 18 2019 and then convicted and sentenced to one year imprisonment on January 26 2020, but that the Scot did not appear in court on that date. The papers further state that extradition back to Qatar will be sought upon his arrest.
Conor and his family maintain that he was only carrying a cannabis grinder,despite the case details stated in the notice.
His worried mum Adele and stepdad Robert have forked out thousands of pounds on lawyers and a crowdfunding drive has been launched for legal help should he be extradited to Qatar.
Describing Conor as a ‘popular, fun loving boy’, Adele said: “I know he is struggling in prison and there have been tears.
“The whole situation is horrendous.”
“He is no trouble maker that’s for sure.”
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “Our staff are in contact with a British man and his family following his arrest in Corfu, and are in touch with the Greek authorities.”
Interpol declined to comment.