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Laura Plummer and her husband (Twitter)

Contentious verdict

British woman sentenced to 3 years in Egyptian prison for drug trafficking

By WITW Staff on December 27, 2017

A British woman has been sentenced to three years in an Egyptian prison after being found guilty of drug smuggling. Laura Plummer, 33, was arrested at Hurghada International Airport in early October, but has maintained she was simply trying to transport medication to her husband, who reportedly suffers from back pain.

According to the The Guardian, Plummer was apprehended at the airport in October while on her way to visit her Egyptian husband, Omar Caboo. Customs officials found 290 tramadol tablets — a powerful synthetic opioid — in her luggage. Tramadol is a legal prescription medication in many countries, but it is not legal for an individual to sell the pills in Egypt, CNN reports. Tramadol is said to be the country’s most frequently abused drug.

In addition to arguing that Plummer had brought the drugs to Egypt for her husband, Plummer’s lawyers noted that the U.K. only issued a warning against carrying tramadol to Egypt in November — one month after Plummer was arrested. Plummer’s family members have said that she did not know she was doing anything illegal, and was simply “daft,” according to The Guardian.

Plummer’s lawyer, Mohamed Othman, told Reuters that she was not carrying enough tablets to point to illegal activity. “It is illogical that she was dealing in tramadol,” he said. “Even the plane ticket is almost double the price of those pills.”

Plummer’s case has been hindered multiple times by language barriers. Upon her apprehension by customs officials, she was reportedly coerced into signing a confession document in Arabic, a language that she does not speak. During her trial, court proceedings were postponed after one of her statements was incorrectly translated to the judge as a confession.

In a statement, the British Foreign Office has said that it “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.” Karl Turner, a local Member of Parliament representing Plummer, said that the verdict was a “damning indictment actually of the Egyptian authorities, in the sense that good sense and fairness certainly hasn’t prevailed in this case,” according to CNN.

It has been a particularly perilous time for women — both for tourists, like Plummer, and for natives — in Egypt of late. A popular singer is awaiting trial and faces three years in prison after she told a joke about the Nile River during a live performance, another pop star was sentenced to two years in prison this month for “inciting debauchery” in a suggestive music video, and Cairo, the nation’s capital, was recently named the most dangerous city in the world for women.

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