Sir Allen Stanford is being kept in solitary confinement and deprived of adequate medical care as he awaits trial on fraud charges, his attorney said after a court appearance on Wednesday.
Sir Allen has been in federal custody since June, when he was arrested on charges of having operated a complex $7bn Ponzi scheme through his Antigua-based bank.
The businessman, who has denied all the charges against him, appeared in court for the first time since he was injured in a fight in the jail last month. The brawl left him with a concussion, two black eyes and a broken nose, his lawyers said.
The Texan appeared to be a shadow of his former, gregarious self. Visibly thinner, he stared blankly at his mother, girlfriend and children and occasionally wiped blood from his nose.
His appearance and behaviour prompted David Hittner, the US district judge overseeing the case, to ask whether he needed medical attention.
Kent Schaffer, Sir Allen’s court-appointed attorney, told reporters his client was being poorly treated by federal authorities.
“They’re doing their best to break him,” Mr Schaffer said. “That’s the thing you thought they did in other countries. Now, we find out they do it here.”
Mr Schaffer said the treatment of the businessman, who was knighted by the Antiguan government for his services to the island, constituted harassment.
He said that while Sir Allen had been spitting blood periodically, the government doctor merely “looks at him through a window and says he’s fine”.
A representative for the US Marshals, the enforcement arm of the US federal courts, told the Financial Times officials would look into Sir Allen’s situation. A dispatcher at the Bureau of Prisons said it was common for prisoners to complain of poor treatment. Calls to the office of the attorney-general were not returned.
Sir Allen is likely to have to remain in jail for some time, since he is considered a flight risk and the court has repeatedly denied his multiple applications to be released on bail.
Judge Hittner said he would wait until the next hearing, which is likely to be in December, to set a date for the trial.
Sir Allen’s attorneys argued in a court filing this week that they needed more time to prepare a defence against the 21-count indictment faced by the financier.