Neil Campbell’s son Reid.
Neil Campbell’s son Reid.

'Save dad from jail hellhole'

THE brother of a Sunshine Coast construction manager detained in horrific conditions in an Indian jail has accused the American justice department of deliberately delaying his transfer to the United States to face corruption charges.

Neil Campbell, 61 (pictured below), who has lived on the Coast since the mid 1960s when his family owned and operated the Woombye Hotel, has been held in Tihar Prison in Delhi for more than a week awaiting extradition to the United States on charges that he corruptly sought a $US190,000 bribe to award a construction contract in Afghanistan.

Vaughan Campbell said from Sydney yesterday that he believed his older brother had been set up as a scapegoat.

“Neil has said he is willing to go to the United States to face the charges,” Vaughan said.

“The amount of time they’ve had, everything should have been in place to transfer him quickly. They are delaying that on purpose, leaving him in an overcrowded jailing system. It’s like in a movie. They’re just softening him up, treating him like an animal. They have him in a position where they are applying psychological pressure.

“The US will keep him in India until the 11th hour when he’s lost 40kgs in weight and is suffering from malaria or another disease and then will put him in chains and on a plane for 15 hours.

“I can’t believe Mr Rudd (Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd) is doing nothing about it. It’s appalling. Australia has become just a puppet to the American system.”

Tihar Prison is considered among the worst of the worst of Asian jails with poor food, chronic overcrowding and unhygienic drinking water. Prisoners die each year from dehydration and disease.

Mr Campbell’s daughter Madison, a 21-year-old University of the Sunshine Coast student, said what was happening to her father was like the “rendition” practices the US had used in its war on terror.

“Our dad should not be in an Indian jail,” she said.

“This matter has nothing to do with the Indian justice system.

“We are concerned that dad is not already in the United States. We are concerned that he gets access to fresh clothes, clean water and good food.

“This isn’t fair or just.

“We want to know why they are taking so long. We also want to know why the Australian Government has not been in contact with the US Government.

“Dad isn’t a flight risk. He is willing to face the charges. Why is he still in India?

“We want Kevin Rudd to intervene to make sure dad is released from prison in India so that he can go to the United States.

“There is no natural justice in this. Dad has the right to a presumption of innocence.

“This matter has nothing to do with India. Dad has said he was set up. He is willing to face and defend the charges.”

A Department of Foreign Affairs official admitted to Mr Campbell’s son Reid on Tuesday that they were unsure whether his father had yet received the clean clothes, drinking water and food he had requested. The best he could offer was that they would be provided before his next court appearance on October 23.

Mr Campbell was arrested at Delhi airport last Wednesday by Indian police at the request of the US Government.

After a court appearance last Friday he told reporters he was willing to go the US to face the charges immediately. He claimed he had been a victim of entrapment.

Mr Campbell is a former Maroochydore Rugby League Club player and a long-time member of Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club and Mooloolaba Outrigger Club. He has worked as a construction manager in Afghanistan for the past five years, most recently for the International Organisation of Migration.

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