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Two Enfield Lorry Drivers Languishing In A Bulgarian Jail For Drugs Offences They Swear They Did Not Commit Are Hoping To Secure An Early Release.>

Drivers seek release from Bulgarian jail

TWO Enfield lorry drivers languishing in a Bulgarian jail for drugs offences they swear they did not commit are hoping to secure an early release.

Peter Hobbs and John Mills were jailed in 1995 after heroin was discovered in their lorry on the Bulgaria-Turkey border.

They were arrested in June that year on a return trip from Istanbul, where they were delivering spare car parts.

But the pair have always proclaimed their innocence, and believe they were set up by real drug traffickers.

The organisation Fair Trials Abroad, which has been campaigning on their behalf, says investigations have shown the lorry crew were duped.

The men believe drug dealers planted the heroin then tipped off customs officials so that their vehicle would be stopped and a much larger consignment of drugs could get though unnoticed.

Stephen Jakobi of Fair Trials Abroad said: "It is known the lorry was inspected by the Turks and was found to be clean.

"It is also known that the Bulgarian customs officials were expecting a much larger consignment."

Mr Mills, 54, lived in Brimsdown before his incarceration, and Mr Hobbs, 44, lived with his parents in Hoe Lane, Enfield.

After serving four years of their seven-and-a-half-year term, they are now eligible to apply for a remission of sentence.

The process should begin next month, and the final decision is in the hands of the Bulgarian president.

Mr Hobbs's brother Stanley said: "We think they have got a good chance of succeeding.

"Both have been a bit down lately because the Bulgarian authorities constantly tell them one thing and then do another."

The pair share their prison in Sofya, Bulgaria's capital, with 180 other foreigners. Living conditions are harsh but they have not suffered violent treatment.

The men's families write once a week and send warm clothing, food parcels and books.

"They're living off the food we send them -- they can't eat the prison food," said Stanley.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000.Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.



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