A London accountant, who has spent almost two years languishing inside a notorious prison in Myanmar, has issued a desperate plea for a translator because he can't understand proceedings in his case. Niranjan Rasalingam, from Croydon, has been locked up in Myanmar's feared Insein prison in Yangon since December 2014, when he was arrested with three Indian nationals on suspicion of stealing 25m kyats (£16,300, $21,000) using fake credit cards.
The 29-year-old, who denies the allegations, says he has suffered "hell on earth" conditions and was starved of food in order to extract a signed confession.
While in jail, he says he has been unable to follow his own legal case – or the more than 200 court appearances he's made – because he has no translator. He was told by the British embassy it could not intervene in other countries' legal affairs and that it was up to the Burmese to provide one.
Mark Farmaner, of the Myanmar, Campaign UK, which is helping highlight Rasalingam's case, told IBTimes UK he had been failed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
"He has had numerous court appearances and there still hasn't been a trial," he said. "He's detained in one of the most notorious prisons in the world and he's received very little help from the British government.
"He has no translator, so has no idea what going on in his own trial. The British government has intervened in other cases before, so why not this one."
Rasalingam maintains he withdrew money legally from a cash machine while in Myanmar on business for a holiday reservation website. He claimed to only know one of the three Indian nationals he was arrested with, with the defendants' legal team arguing two of them were not even in Myanmar on 16 November, 2014 – the day of the alleged offences.
The Indian embassy has reportedly already filed a complaint to the Myanmar government over the defendants' treatment, according to the Guardian.
Susan Garbutt, who worked as vice-consul at the British embassy in Yangon until April 2015, and who has been helping Rasalingam, claimed the UK police had already cleared the transactions made as legitimate. She said the money withdrawn was closer to £970 and done with pre-paid cards bought by Rasalingham in the UK.
The FCO, which still regards Myanmar's legal system as "corrupt" and its prison conditions as "very poor" said it would raise the concerns with the authorities.