A Raunds man has spoken of his misery after his wife was given a Ukrainian jail term for accidentally taking his prescribed painkillers to her homeland.
The man and his wife – who we are not identifying for their own safety – are both prescribed medicine from their GP in Northamptonshire.
He is prescribed tramadol which, unbeknown to the couple, is a banned substance in Ukraine.
But after accidentally forgetting to take his own medicine from the bag they shared as she packed to visit family in April 2015, his wife was detained at Kiev airport and sentenced to almost seven years in prison.
Now the Raunds man says he is living a nightmare – and has warned others to always check their medicines before they take them abroad.
He said: “There’s absolutely nothing on the information leaflet that says where you can and can’t take this medicine. We didn’t even know it was banned in Ukraine.
“My wife got to Kiev aiport and they detained her. They [the lawyers] said I had to pay up to $50,000 or she would surely go to prison.
“I paid £3,000 for her bail and $10,000 to get the case to a second hearing but the court still sentenced her to 6.8 years in jail.
“Maybe the fact I am British and they can earn money from me doesn’t help.
“I’ve sent legalised evidence that they are my prescribed tablets but they have just dismissed it.
“She’s living in an apartment now but at any point the police can come and collect her and take her to prison.
“It’s a living nightmare. I’m utterly heartbroken.
“If you’re going abroad, make sure you check that what you are taking is OK to take.”
The couple have been married for two-and-a-half years but as she is still a Ukrainian national, there is little the UK Government can do.
The Raunds man says the Ukrainian prison system is very strict and he is not sure how his wife will cope if she is locked up.
He said: “The prison system there is horrible. They don’t provide basic food and toiletries and you rely on what people bring to you.
“If she does go to prison I might have to move to Ukraine.
“I’ve spoken to lawyers and the government there but they say the sentence cannot be reversed.”
The devastated husband also went on to speak out about the corruption of the Ukrainian legal system.
He added: “The people of Ukraine are lovely but when you get to the hierarchy, the upper crust, they are all driven by money and that is all they are worried about.
“She was charged with aims to distribute tramadol but the cost of flying there far outweighs the income she’d get from selling the tablets. It doesn’t make sense.
“When the uprising took place against the corruption in Government two years ago, the police killed 88 of their own citizens.
“This is a country that wants to join the EU.”
He is still pursuing all options for his wife’s release and has been in contact with MP for Corby and East Northants Tom Pursglove, who has spoken to the Foreign Office about the situation.
A Foreign Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “We have provided assistance to a British national whose spouse has been detained in Ukraine, and are in contact with the local authorities.”