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Family reunion for freed prisoner

A north Wales man who has been released from jail in Japan after serving nearly four years for manslaughter has had an emotional reunion with family and friends.

Patrick Loughlin, from Wrexham, was jailed for the killing of a man in 1999.

The 34-year-old was finally released from jail on Friday and is now back in the UK with his family.

Mr Loughlin, who was working as an English teacher before his arrest, maintains he was wrongly convicted of killing the man in bar brawl.

He says his Japanese lawyer, who could not speak English, entered a guilty plea on his behalf.

He has also made serious allegations about his treatment in prison.

Earlier, Euro MP Glenys Kinnock, who has been an active campaigner to free Mr Loughlin, said she had learnt from the British Embassy in Japan that he was due back in the UK this weekend.

Pop singer

"It is wonderful news for his friends and family who have campaigned so hard to get Patrick back to Wales," she said.

"It has been an ordeal for his family, and we can only be thankful that it is now at an end."

Mr Loughlin also received support from far and wide and the manager of international pop singer Mick Hucknell raised thousands of pounds to pay his legal fees.

Ian Grenfell, who looks after the lead singer of the band Simply Red, ran the New York marathon in 2001 to highlight the plight of Mr Loughlin.

Mr Loughlin's mother Kathleen, who still lives in the family home in Penley near Wrexham, has led an intensive campaign to free her son along with her husband Robert.

Patrick Loughlin's appeal against the conviction was turned down in October 2001 by the Japanese Supreme Court.

In September 2001 his parents met Foreign Office Minister Baroness Amos to press his case.

They were joined by Clwyd South MP Martyn Jones, a long time supporter of his constituent.

In 2002 Mr Jones' hopes of a legal deal securing the release of Mr Loughlin were dashed.

The politician hoped Japan would have signed up to a European convention on prisoner transfers - allowing the Wrexham man to serve the rest of his sentence in the UK.

It was hoped the country, which jointly hosted the World Cup with South Korea, would have bowed to political pressure.

Kathleen Loughlin has always alleged her son was beaten by prison guards when he was kept at the Nagoya Detention Centre before he started his sentence.

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