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BBC man happy with Byo jail treatment


LONDON — A BBC classical music presenter arrested in Zimbabwe for being in the country illegally has said he was well treated during his six-day detention.

Petroc Trelawny, who arrived back in the UK on Saturday, told the BBC he was met with “nothing, but kindness”.

Trelawny had spent time in hospital, after fracturing his arm by accidentally tripping over one of his prison cell inmates.

He returns to the airwaves today on BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast programme.

Trelawny was acting as a compere at a musical festival in Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, but was arrested for not having a work permit.

“I’m left with an extraordinary realisation of the goodness of humanity,” he said.

He was taken to the central police station, where he shared a 4,26m by 2,7m cell with 16 other people — at one stage, the number rose to 21.

“As soon as I went in, I realised it was going to be very uncomfortable, but there was nothing to be frightened of,” he told the Broadcasting House programme on BBC Radio 4.

His inmates were “warm and welcoming” and intrigued by what he was doing there, the presenter said.

He said he was taught the ropes of how to sleep in such a tight space — when one person moved, everyone else had to follow. Trelawny’s sleeping position and the cell’s overcrowding combined to result in his accident. “I was given the space right at the far end of the cell and had gone to peer out at the grill,” he said.

“On the way back, I tripped over one of the many people there.

“I instinctively put my arm out to stop the fall and heard the sound of what I thought was breaking bone.”
Trelawny said the police immediately transferred him to hospital, where he was treated by the “most amazing” nurses who did their best to look after him despite the hospital’s basic condition and lack of drugs.

“I’m left with an extraordinary realisation of the goodness of humanity,” he said.

All charges against the music presenter, who was in Zimbabwe in a personal capacity — not on an assignment for the BBC — were dropped and he left the country on Friday.

He is known for presenting Music Matters, Breakfast and Live in Concert on BBC Radio 3.

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