Daniel Holmes’s mother appeals for his release on humanitarian grounds
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Katie Holmes, the mother of Daniel Holmes, is appealing for his early release from prison on humanitarian grounds. In 2011 he was sentenced to 10 years 6 months in prison and a fine of €23,000, after being found guilty of cultivating cannabis in Gozo.
In October 2013 Daniel Holmes appealed his prison sentence for growing cannabis plants. His appeal was rejected and the sentence upheld.
In a letter today Katie outlines her appeal for "justice for Daniel." The letter is shown in full below.
"I have written many letters over the years to the Maltese authorities and received little, if anything, in the way of replies, so once again I feel I must write in the hope that there will be a review of the case of my son, Daniel Holmes. I have been given email addresses of those who may have some interest in justice in Malta please excuse me for writing to you if this is not the case.
You will be aware of the case, I'm sure. It has drawn much attention from all over the world. The vast majority of people who have read the details of his case offer understanding and compassion for our situation, from Government Ministers and MPs to anyone who can appreciate that sentencing a man to 10.5 years imprisonment and a heavy fine for a victimless crime is wrong.
We cannot believe it possible that our son is wasting his life in prison when President Obama is reviewing and releasing criminals early from their drug related sentences, when America has declared that Marijuana can play an important part in medical use in a range of conditions, including cancer and has approved new medical marijuana legislation.
Frenc tal-Gharb cured many sick people in Malta and Gozo during his life time and his secret medicine is now known to be cannabis. President Barack Obama recently described marijuana as "no more dangerous than alcohol". When so many countries in Europe are reviewing their drug laws and legalising marijuana, why will Malta not reconsider the effect of imprisonment on Daniel and his family, and others jailed for drug offences?
Daniel has already spent 5 years in prison on Malta, 1 of which was for a crime he was later cleared of and which we are still taking through the courts, asking the authorities to allow this year to count towards his sentence but, we are even having to appeal the first verdict when this was denied.
I say 'we' as his sentence has punished us all. I think most people will understand the suffering that we, his parents, have had to bear and it is we who will have to pay his fine and court costs, as we have already paid his legal fees. Daniel has no assets, there was never any evidence showing he had any money.
His father suffered a stroke last February and he doubts that he will ever see his son freed. His wife shows incredible strength and fortitude in an intolerable situation and Daniel's daughter has spent her 4 Christmases without her father and doesn't understand why. He spent part of his Christmas day washing his clothes and bedding in a bucket in his cell and trying to dry them there. This is not justice.
The procedure and evidence presented in the courts was flawed. At the very least, the fact that the whole of the Cannabis plants Daniel was growing was weighed and submitted as evidence – the stems, leaves and roots – although it is only the buds which are the usable part.
There were 2 people growing the plants but after the suicide of Barry Lee, his part in the crime was "forgotten." Daniel pleaded guilty only as he was offered a 'plea bargain' and given 5 minutes to make a decision, but this was withdrawn before sentence was passed. These points have been highlighted many times over the years but the problem has not been addressed. This is not justice.
I believe it is time for his cruel punishment to stop and rehabilitation to begin. We are asking for his early release on humanitarian grounds.
Photograph: The free Daniel Holmes Appeal