MailOnline is able to reveal that the British hotelier, and his Italian wife were kept in Zanzibar’s hellhole prison have been freed.

A judge dismissed the charges of money laundering against Simon Wood (51), and Francesca Scalfari (45), at an earlier hearing. They are now allowed to get out of jail where they’ve been since June 7.

A pal said: ‘They were released a few hours ago, it’s fantastic news and what we were all hoping and praying for. After the money laundering accusations were dropped, they have been released and allowed to return home.

‘There are other charges outstanding and there is still some way to go before this is all over but for the time being they have been allowed to go home and be with their families.’

Sweet release: Scalfari and Wood pose with Scalfari’s brother Mario

Simon Wood, 51, from Preston, UK, and his wife Francesca Scalfari, 45, (pictured in court) were jailed in Zanzibar, an island off the coast of east Africa, on 7 June.

Simon Wood (51), from Preston, UK and Francesca Scalfari (45) were both taken into custody in Zanzibar on the 7th of June.

The couple (pictured with their son Luca), who run the four-star Sharazad Boutique Hotel in Zanzibar, now face 20 years in jail over money laundering charges after they fell out with two investors who had invested in their hotel

They are pictured here with their son Luca. The Sharazad Boutique Hotel is a four-star hotel in Zanzibar. After falling out with two investors, the couple now faces 20 years in prison for money laundering.

A message on a Facebook page set up to support the couple said:’ The non-bailable charge of money laundering has been dropped. Simon and Francesca were released from jail.

Simon Wood's story was shared by Mahmoud Kombo of the Tanzanian Foreign Ministry

Mahmoud Kmbo, Tanzanian Foreign Ministry shared the story of Simon Wood.

‘After three excruciating days of postponements and being sent back to prison, not knowing if they will ever get out, our hearts are bursting with joy that at last they can be together, go home and speak to their families -especially Luca – whenever they want.

‘In the meantime let’s give them time to heal and process what has happened and enjoy some peace and privacy together.’

Francesca’s brother Marco, posted a picture of the couple on his Facebook page after they were released and wrote: ‘No cost! No cost! Free ! Free!!

‘Exhausted but never as happy, ecstatic right now!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL YOU… YOU’RE GOOD PEOPLE, FIGHTING FOR TRUTHS. All of us send our warmest regards.

Following a disagreement with two investors, the couple who owns and runs Sharazad Boutique Hotel in Zanzibar was charged with money laundering. They were sentenced to twenty years imprisonment.

Simon was taken into custody by police who shaved his head before placing him with 200 others dangerous prisoners, Wood’s family stated. 

Wood and Scalfari were pictured in court earlier today supported by Mario (second row, left)

Wood and Scalfari were photographed in court with Mario (second row, right) earlier today.

Simon and Francesca, who have lived on the island for 20 years, have been denied basic needs - including access to water - and relatives haven't been allowed into the jail to see them on several occasions

Francesca and Simon, who live on the island 20 years ago, were denied access to basic necessities, including water, and their relatives weren’t allowed to visit them at the prison on multiple occasions.

The couple were jailed in Zanzibar, an island off the coast of east Africa, on 7 June.

On 7 June, the couple was taken to Zanzibar (an island off east Africa’s coast) and sentenced.

According to them, the couple had been living on the island for over 20 years and were not allowed to enter the prison to see them. 

Family and friends of the couple believe their arrest was connected to civil lawsuits against them from their ex-business partners, Liliana Fero and Giovani Viale. The suits stemmed back to 2017. 

Viale, Ferro brought a number of civil suits against Simon and Francesca. However, each time the civil courts dismissed the claims. In 2019, the last claim was rejected.

However, Simon and Francesca were later granted their settlements. Their family and friends weren’t able to understand why there were new charges against them earlier in the month.

Happier times: Simon and Francesca are pictured on a gorgeous Zanzibar beach before jail

Happy times: Simon and Francesca were pictured at a beautiful Zanzibar Beach before they went to jail

Simon with shaved head

Simon before arrest

Simon was taken into police custody and his head was shaved by officers. Simon was then placed in Kilimani Prison cell 200 with other dangerous prisoners, Simon’s family stated.

According to Zanzibar laws the couple could have been imprisoned for as long as eight months. 

Simon is pictured holding son Luca, 11, next to an unidentified friend in a holiday pic

Simon, holding son Luca (11) next to unidentified friend at holiday pic

Just before being arrested, they managed to get Luca onto a plane to fly away on his own. He now lives with his grandparents in Italy. 

Francesca wrote to MailOnline in messages that were seen by MailOnline about the conditions inside the prison. Imagine a cruel world, then adding jail and then abuse of power.

“I would love to be able to express my feelings with words.” Because we’re not permitted to be sad or cry during the day, I spent my nights in prison crying. 

Christine Wood (from Preston, Lancashire) told MailOnline her concern for Simon’s well-being.

She stated that she was worried about Simon, her son and Francesca, Francesca’s Italian-born wife. They are beginning their third week in Zanzibar.

Under local Zanzibar laws, the couple, who have an 11-year-old son Luca, can be kept in jail for eight months without trial

Local Zanzibar laws allow the couple with a 11-year old son Luca to remain in jail for an additional eight months.

The couple managed to put Luca on a plane on his own to flee the island just before they were arrested. He is now staying with his maternal grandparents in Italy.

Just before being arrested, the couple were able to get Luca to board a private plane to escape from the island. He now lives with his grandparents in Italy.

Francesca's uncle Jim Betteridge, 62, a British ex-pat living in Tuscany, Italy, added Simon and Francesca are being kept in 'primitive' conditions

Jim Betteridge is a British expat who lives in Tuscany. He added Francesca and Simon to his ‘primitive conditions’.

The accused have been charged with money laundering, but they don’t understand why.

They are still in prison until they are found guilty by the court.

Jim Betteridge is a British expat who lives in Tuscany. He added Francesca and Simon to his ‘primitive conditions’.

He said, “A hell hole would probably be a pretty accurate description.”

Simon had arrived on the beautiful island 20 years, where he met his future wife, Francesca, and had their son, Luca, 11

Simon was 20 years old when he arrived on this beautiful island. Francesca became his wife and the couple had their son, Luca.

“There is no water or food provided. They must buy it. Any food brought in will be inspected by guards.

The heat is unbearable, there are lots of mosquitos, and this place isn’t where you want to meet your worst enemy. It would be a compliment to call it primitive.

Jim said Simon arrived on this beautiful island twenty years ago. There he met Francesca and they had their son, Luca.

This archipelago is under Tanzania’s jurisdiction and is known for its soft beaches and warm weather. It attracts approximately 500,000 tourists each year.

The pair later decided in 2015 to turn their beachside home into a 30-room boutique hotel, with £200-a-night ocean view villas, a restaurant and swimming pool. However, the couple was unable to afford the building of the hotel.

Viale & Ferro heard the couple was struggling to raise the money and approached them to tell them they would invest. 

Francesca’s friend Simon told me that tensions grew because the partners wanted to decide how the hotel should operate.

MailOnline was told by a close friend that the relationship ended and they filed a lawsuit to have Simon and Francesca removed from the hotel.

A civil court ruled that Simon and Francesca would have six months to purchase the Viales from the hotel. If they failed, Simon and Francesca could be bought out by the Viales.

Francesca and Simon were able raise the money, so the ex-partners appealed against the judgment, which was lost. 

In 2019, the court ordered the money – $600,000 (£489,000) for the hotel shares that had not already been paid be put in an account that was made available to the Viales, which Simon and Francesca did. 

After the divorce, ex-partners brought a second claim before Dar es Salaam commercial court. It was also thrown out. 

All went well, but the case was reopened a month later with fresh charges for money laundering. Francesca and Simon’s friend claim that the Viales demanded $2 million ($1.6million) in order to drop all charges. 

Simon and his wife Francesca with their son Luca when he was born

Simon with Francesca, his wife and their baby boy Luca. 

The close friend explained that he could imagine ex-partners being motivated to do this because they see the hotel’s success and want a piece of the pie. 

Francesca’s uncle, Jim, said: ‘I don’t think anybody knows how this now settled and finished civil matter has been dug up again and turned into this criminal state prosecution affair.

“And it’s all blown to pieces in the past month and a quarter, really when everything was behind them.”

Yesterday, the couple appeared in court for their first time. They were accused of money laundering. The maximum sentence is 20 years.

Jim says that their families received assistance from officials from Britain and Italy, but the couple were still suffering due to their conditions in separate jails.

Britain’s Deputy High Commissioner Rick Shearn met with officials of the Zanzibari government, and has been to see Simon in prison. Marco Lombardi, the Italian ambassador, tried to arrange a visit to Francesca, and was denied entry to the prison.

He explained that both had lost weight and they are clearly unhappy and stressed.

“The prison is quite pathetic, to be honest. Simon sleeps on a bed on the floor in one of 200 rooms that house convicted criminals.

Francesca lives in a large room with around 20 other people. The couple had to go without water for 2 days, and then again for 2 nights. It is hard to imagine how that could have been for just one individual or 20.

Jim claims that the two could prove their innocence but admits it’s difficult because they can’t get bail at this time.

He claimed that if they were to be allowed out, they’d be able prove their innocence in no matter how fast they took.

“But they cannot see it from the inside so they are frustrated. This is not something to be proud of.

Hussein Mwinyi is the President of Zanzibar. He will likely attend an investment forum in the area today to face critics for his detention.

Manuela Castegnaro in Rome was Francescas’ family lawyer. She wrote, “We are very concerned about Francesca and Simon’s health and mental state.” 

‘Francesca Has lost weight. She can’t eat because her brother is her cook.

Manuela stated that Francesca told Marco, her brother, what Francesca did to Francesca. She said: “Before they give me food, the control them by placing their fingers in it. So I cannot eat it any more.”

Simon, who has been suffering from an ear infection and also lost weight has sought medical attention. There is no evidence to support the state’s charges. The Court file contains nothing new. 

“We have high hopes that they will be freed.”

The spokesperson for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office confirmed that they are supporting a British citizen currently in prison in Tanzania, but refused to provide any more details.

The men stated that they were supporting the British National in Tanzania detention and had been in touch with local authorities.