A British man has been sentenced to four months in a Moroccan jail for the crime of being gay. 69 year old Ray Cole, from Deal in Kent, was arrested by Moroccan police last month along with Jamal Jam Wald, a Moroccan citizen who he had flown out to meet, on suspicion of being homosexual.
Cole lost contact with his family for a week after the arrest, prompting fears that he was missing, the Daily Mail has reported. However, he was eventually able to make contact by ringing his own home number – the only number he had memorized – from a fellow prisoner’s phone, and spoke to his housemate.
His son Adrian flew out to visit him, and says that Moroccan authorities failed to notify the family or the British Consulate of his father’s arrest. Last night Adrian took to Facebook to post “You may have noticed that I have been absent from Facebook for a few days. Many of you who know me will know that my father came out as gay a few years ago. He had been holidaying in Morocco with a Moroccan friend and sadly has been arrested and charged with being gay.
“He has now been sentenced to 4 months in the central prison in Marrakech. Life is pretty bleak in there, they are served boiled vegetables once a day and his cell is a dorm designed to sleep 44, however since there are 60 men in there, my 70 year old father sleeps on the concrete floor. The prison does not segregate, so he is sharing with murderers, rapists, paedophiles etc.
“We have been working with the foreign and common wealth office, but of course they cannot change the law.
“What we can do though is make this an embarrassment for the Moroccan authorities, this country produces nothing, they rely on tourists, like my father. They then decide to judge you and your life and may or may not treat you in this fashion.”
A petition has been launched on Change.org calling on the Moroccan authorities to release Cole, and the family are planning to appeal the conviction.
Ray Cole met Jamal Jam Wald online a few months ago and the two struck up a relationship. Mr Cole Snr. had previously been to Morocco on a two week holiday to meet Mr Wald, and was in the fourth week of a second break with Mr Wald when the pair were arrested. They had been waiting for a bus back to Mr Wald’s apartment when they were approached by police.
Adrian said “They took Jamal away from the bus and treated him poorly and my dad didn’t walk away. He should have but he didn’t.
“It was then the police took Jamal’s phone, which they didn’t have the right to do, and they took his password and saw the picture.”
Speaking to Pink News, he added “The Consulate tried to visit him but were initially turned way, and told he had refused to see them. But when we spoke to him, he didn’t know anything about it.
“He’s had a couple of minor strokes before and has a minor heart condition. He has also been suffering with depression, which the court didn’t take into account.
“Why they haven’t just deported him no one seems to be able to be able to explain.”
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said “We can confirm the detention of a British national in Morocco. We are providing consular assistance.”
Charlie Elphicke, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Dover and Deal has spoken out about his the case, tweeting “Deeply concerned for my constituent Ray Cole who has been jailed in Morocco and doing all I can to get him back to UK.”
Speaking to Pink News, Mr Elphicke said “I have been doing all I can to help free Mr Cole from these appalling charges. I urge people not to visit Morocco. If you go there you are at serious risk of facing trumped up charges for medieval crimes.
“The message is clear: Morocco is not safe for British tourists.”