A CHARITY worker from the Capital who has been jailed in Albania for 12 years could be set free next week.
Orphanage manager David Brown was jailed on child abuse charges in 2006 despite always protesting his innocence.
Now friends say a parole hearing on Monday could offer Brown fresh hope, after serving three-quarters of his sentence in a notoriously tough Tirana prison.
“I have just had an email from David’s lawyer, Gjystina,” said one friend, Ralf Kellett-Smith. “At the end of January she applied to the court for parole for David as he has now served more than three-quarters of his sentence.
“Very unusually for the Albanian courts, he has a hearing already. This is really hot news.”
A network of friends and family are now keeping their fingers crossed over the weekend praying for good news on Monday, having endured false hope before.
The Evening News reported last year how two men who testified against David when boys were willing to retract their statements.
The pair, now aged 19 and 23, were prepared to give fresh evidence, but the Tirana Crimes Court took less than five minutes to reject it because Brown was still in prison.
Andon Qoshli, now 23, said Brown is innocent, while Denis Aliu, now 19, said he was given gifts by a psychologist to testify.
Brown worked with children for 35 years in Scotland and was a Children’s Panel chairman.
He flew to Albania in 2000 to help refugees fleeing neighbouring war-torn Kosovo, before setting up an orphanage for street children.
Ten boys, aged between four and 13, told police they had been sexually abused by one or more of three Britons at the orphanage in 2006. In some cases, the children claimed to have been bound to a balcony, gagged and raped.
Brown’s former colleagues Dino Christodoulou, 52, and Robin Arnold, 63, were convicted and handed terms totalling 35 years.
Brown, 66, got 20 years but has reached the three-quarter mark after 12 years because time is chalked off for every year served, amounting to three years.
Friend Mike Taylor, of Stenhouse-based Scottish Children’s Mission, said: “I don’t think we’ve had a parole hearing before but we’ve been here so many times with hope deferred. Last time he got his hopes up and then came crashing down again.
“Hopefully there’s something positive about it this time. It should be a given if we’re talking about natural justice but we don’t get natural justice.”