Australian father Robert Pether held in an Iraqi jail needs urgent skin cancer surgery

Australian father-of-three held in an Iraqi prison for 16 months is ‘deteriorating’ and needs urgent treatment for skin cancers

  • Father-of-three languishing in prison is ‘deteriorating’ with possible skin cancers
  • Robert Pether needs urgent surgery after photos revealed worrying skin spots
  • The 47-year-old has been in an Iraq jail with a colleague since April last year
  • A United Nations report said they have been tortured while inside the prison  
  • It said Mr Pether was blindfolded, interrogated, screamed at and threatened

An Australian man confined to an overcrowded Iraqi jail for almost two years needs urgent health attention due to seven suspected skin cancers. 

Robert Pether, 47, a father-of-three, was thrown into an Iraqi prison in April last year while the engineer was on a business trip to the Middle Eastern country. 

A photo of spots on Mr Pether was sent to a doctor in Italy showing he had lesions on his back and ear. 

His wife, Desree Pether, told ABC the doctor was ‘absolutely appalled’ at her husband’s state.  

The father-of-three (pictured with his family) has spent the better part of 10 years working throughout the Middle East as he helped rebuild Iraq

The father-of-three (pictured with his family) has spent the better part of 10 years working throughout the Middle East as he helped rebuild Iraq

Mr Pether (pictured) and an Egyptian colleague Khalid Radwan were arrested in Iraq after they were enticed to come to a meeting to resolve a dispute last year

Mr Pether (pictured) and an Egyptian colleague Khalid Radwan were arrested in Iraq after they were enticed to come to a meeting to resolve a dispute last year

His wife, Desree Pether, told ABC the doctor who saw pictures of the state of Mr Pether's skin was 'absolutely appalled' (pictured, a stock photo)

His wife, Desree Pether, told ABC the doctor who saw pictures of the state of Mr Pether’s skin was ‘absolutely appalled’ (pictured, a stock photo)

‘He’s got so many new moles on his back, he’s got a new mole on the same ear that he had a melanoma before, and it has changed significantly in the last few months.

‘It’s displaying the same aggressive behaviour as the melanoma that he had.’

The spots need to be cut out but Mrs Pether said he could not have the operation performed where he is because of the risk of post-operative infection while sharing a crowded cell.

 ‘Our doctors stated that he looks 74, not 47, and he looks very frail, like a frail old man,’ she said. ‘He’s completely grey, and his skin tone is grey.’ 

Mrs Pether said a doctor told her her husband (pictured with his family) looks 74, not 47, and is very frail

Mrs Pether said a doctor told her her husband (pictured with his family) looks 74, not 47, and is very frail

The mum has spoken to her husband and said he is in a dark place and was ‘absolutely terrified’ of being in the jail. 

Mr Pether and an Egyptian colleague Khalid Radwan were arrested in Iraq after they were enticed to come to a meeting to resolve a dispute last year. 

An engineer, Mr Pether had been working on building the $1 billion Central Bank of Iraq (CBI) offices in Baghdad when he was arrested with his colleague. 

An Iraqi court found the pair guilty of deception, carrying a $16 million fine and five years jail time. 

Since his detention, Mr Pether’s family has been trying to get him released. 

For the first 19 days after his arrest, Mr Pether spent his days in solitary confinement and had just two hours’ freedom to speak with a lawyer. 

Prior to Mr Pether’s arrest, he was a vocal advocate for Iraq and was proud to be contributing to the nation’s rebuild. 

Mr Pether's wife Desree said her husband is in a dark place and was 'absolutely terrified' of being in the Iraqi jail. Pictured, Robert and Desree together on their wedding day

Mr Pether’s wife Desree said her husband is in a dark place and was ‘absolutely terrified’ of being in the Iraqi jail. Pictured, Robert and Desree together on their wedding day

The father has spent the better part of 10 years working throughout the Middle East as he helped rebuild Iraq after it was decimated by war. 

Meanwhile, a United Nations arbitrary detention report said Mr Pether had lost 15kg and was severely dehydrated in prison. 

It said he had been blindfolded, interrogated, screamed at, threatened, insulted and shown torture rooms’. 

‘There are indications that he was exposed to extreme cold, threats of death, humiliation and various forms of psychological abuse,’ the November report said. 

It said their imprisonment is in contravention to international law. 

Labor MP Peter Khalil raised Mr Pether’s situation in federal parliament last week, appealing to the Iraqi government to free him due to his declining health. 

Labor MP Peter Khalil raised Mr Pether's (pictured) situation in federal parliament last week, appealing to the Iraqi government to free him due to his declining health

Labor MP Peter Khalil raised Mr Pether’s (pictured) situation in federal parliament last week, appealing to the Iraqi government to free him due to his declining health

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