Former Qatar prisoner headed home to Ja
There are indications that Paul Stephens, the Jamaican man who has been serving a five-year prison sentence in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar, is on his way home.
Judie O'Sullivan, a Jamaican who has been assisting Stephens, told The Gleaner he left Qatar yesterday and would be travelling to Jamaica through London, England.
O'Sullivan said the west Kingston resident sent her a message as he made his way to the airport, saying he was happy to be leaving Qatar.
"When he was ready to go to the airport, his emergency travel documents were not there as yet. What Qatar Airways did was that they just revalidated the ticket," she explained.
"He said he is going to fight his cause because he is innocent," she said.
According to the official judgment, in the Primary Court of Qatar, Stephens was convicted for having sexual intercourse with a female knowing that she was under the age of 16 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment to be followed by deportation.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade said Stephens was arrested in Qatar in November 2008 and charged for a serious offence.
"He confessed to the charge and was found guilty by the Primary Court (court of first instance) in November 2012 and sentenced to five years' imprisonment, to be followed by deportation," the foreign ministry said.
"Following his conviction on 28th November 2012, he was taken into custody in January 2013 to begin his custodial sentence. He filed an appeal ... . His conviction was upheld by the appeal court in April 2013. A further appeal to the Court of Cassation (final court) was denied in December 2013," the ministry said.
Stephens recently received a pardon after spending more than three years in prison.
O'Sullivan told The Gleaner yesterday that she was convinced that much praying and fasting by herself and members of her church led to his release.
She also claimed to have visited Qatar and collected court records indicating discrepancies in the case.
"It is a false accusation because they could not convict him, and what they were saying were all lies against him. The judges kept changing and they decided to put something on him," O'Sullivan asserted.