British woman sentenced in Egypt to 3 years' jail for smuggling painkillers

A general view of al-Bahr al-Ahmar court where British national Laura Plummer faces trial for drug trafficking, in Hurghada, Egypt, on Nov 11, 2017.
A general view of al-Bahr al-Ahmar court where British national Laura Plummer faces trial for drug trafficking, in Hurghada, Egypt, on Nov 11, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO (REUTERS) - An Egyptian court sentenced a British woman to three years in prison on Tuesday (Dec 26) for smuggling around 300 painkiller tablets into the country, in a ruling her defence team said she would appeal to have overturned or commuted. 

Laura Plummer, a 33-year-old shop worker from Hull, was arrested in October after the Tramadol tablets were found in her suitcase.
 
Her family told British newspapers she bought the tablets for her Egyptian partner living in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. 
 
Plummer attended a hearing in her case on Monday (Dec 25), before Tuesday’s sentencing. The court also ruled that she must pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (S$7,535). 
 
Tramadol is a legal, prescription medicine in Britain, but it is banned in Egypt.
 
Plummer was arrested on arrival from Britain in October, and her detention was extended twice prior to her court appearance. 
 
Plummer’s family said on Tuesday they were disgusted by the way the trial had been conducted. 
 
“From day one, this has been a complete nightmare. Yesterday in the court she wasn’t even allowed her own interpreter. She had to get the court’s interpreter who was interpreting the wrong answers,” her sister Jayne Synclair said, speaking on BBC television. 
 
The family said Plummer had also been forced to sign Arabic-language documents which she did not understand. 
 
“She’s on the verge of a mental breakdown... It’s just horrendous,” her sister said. 
 
Her lawyer said Plummer would appeal, seeking to reverse the verdict or get a commuted sentence, which is possible in the two months after sentencing. He added that she did not know Tramadol was banned in Egypt. 
 
Speaking to the court on behalf of Plummer, the lawyer, said she had no criminal intent in bringing in the painkillers. 
 
On Monday, the lawyer, Mohamed Othman, told Reuters: “It is illogical that she was dealing in Tramadol. She had only 320 pills. Even the plane ticket is almost double the price of those pills.”
 
A spokesman from Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We will continue to provide assistance to Laura and her family following the court ruling in Egypt, and our embassy is in regular contact with the Egyptian authorities.”