British tourist gets 3-year sentence in Egypt on drug smuggling charge

A British woman who says she was carrying painkillers for her ailing partner was sentenced Tuesday to three years in ...

Posted: Dec 27, 2017 11:32 AM
Updated: Dec 27, 2017 11:32 AM

A British woman who says she was carrying painkillers for her ailing partner was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison and fined the equivalent of $5,611 by an Egyptian court.

Laura Plummer, 33, was arrested on October 9 at Hurghada International Airport on the Red Sea after police reportedly found 290 tablets of tramadol in her suitcase.

Laura Plummer was convicted of attempting to sell tramadol

Her lawyers, British government say it is a big misunderstanding

Plummer, a shop assistant from Hull in east Yorkshire, was charged with drug possession and smuggling. Her lawyers argue the traveler misunderstood a question in court and gave a response that appeared to be a confession.

While tramadol is legal in many countries as a prescription painkiller, it is illegal for a private individual to sell it in Egypt, where it is popular among lower-income sectors.

Plummer said she had brought the drug to her Egyptian husband, Omar Abdel-Azim, who suffers from back pain.

The pair met five years ago in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, when Abdel-Azim worked as a lifeguard.

They were married in 2014 through an unregistered contract, known in Egypt as an "urfi" marriage. Plummer has been visiting her husband regularly since.

A look at the court case

In court, Plummer's lawyers argued the drug was not listed as illegal in the UK travel advisory.

The UK's decision to add a warning against carrying tramadol while traveling to Egypt was issued in November -- a month after the arrest.

"For someone to be found guilty of drug smuggling they have to be aware that they are possessing narcotics," Plummer's lawyer, Mohamed Othman, told Reuters.

"Laura did not know that what she was carrying was a narcotic. This is pursuant to that tramadol 50mg is a painkiller in her country, England. When she brought the tramadol, she believed it was a painkiller."

Othman told CNN that the sentence was light, considering the charges.

In a statement, the British Foreign Office said 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."

An appeal is planned

Plummer's trial started in the town of Safaga on Monday with what her lawyers described as a mistaken confession.

Their client was asked whether she was intending to sell the drug. But she thought she was asked whether she simply possessed it, and said yes, the lawyers said.

The defense also rejected allegations of smuggling and trading charges. "She had only 320 pills. Even the plane ticket is almost double the price of those pills," Othman said. "It is illogical that she will deal in tramadol."

Drug smuggling convictions sometimes carry the death penalty; others carry a minimum of 10 years in prison. It wasn't immediately clear whether Plummer was convicted for possession, smuggling or both.

Plummer plans to appeal the sentence.

"It will take a while and she has to go back to the prison," said Plummer's mother, Roberta Synclair.

"It's not fair," Synclair said. "I was worried about her staying in the police custody; now she will be in the prison with criminal people."

'Terrible mistake'

Plummer's local MP, Karl Turner, said her case had been raised with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt.

"I am hopeful that good sense will eventually prevail," he told the BBC.

"This is a damning indictment actually of the Egyptian authorities, in the sense that good sense and fairness certainly hasn't prevailed in this case.

"This is a decent woman who has made a terrible mistake who shouldn't be incarcerated in any prison, never mind an Egyptian prison."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 25208

Reported Deaths: 1060
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8514616
Ramsey3075128
Stearns203013
Nobles15445
Anoka142970
Dakota134957
Washington64532
Olmsted63410
Kandiyohi4971
Rice4622
Scott4362
Clay42728
Mower3452
Wright3202
Todd3190
Sherburne2462
Carver2182
Benton1783
Steele1600
Blue Earth1420
Martin1325
Freeborn1250
St. Louis11814
Pine890
Unassigned8810
Nicollet8810
Winona8015
Cottonwood760
Watonwan750
Carlton750
Crow Wing712
Otter Tail700
Goodhue683
Chisago621
Polk612
Lyon570
Itasca5510
Dodge530
Chippewa511
Morrison470
Meeker450
Douglas440
Le Sueur441
Becker400
Murray390
Jackson390
McLeod370
Isanti350
Waseca260
Rock220
Swift190
Mille Lacs191
Pennington190
Faribault190
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Beltrami150
Cass142
Norman130
Marshall120
Pipestone120
Kanabec111
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Koochiching90
Pope90
Aitkin80
Mahnomen61
Yellow Medicine60
Big Stone60
Lincoln50
Redwood50
Renville50
Red Lake40
Grant40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Houston20
Hubbard20
Roseau20
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19669

Reported Deaths: 555
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4236133
Woodbury276136
Black Hawk174745
Linn95379
Dallas91623
Marshall89616
Buena Vista8100
Johnson6149
Wapello59712
Muscatine55741
Crawford5282
Tama40327
Scott36110
Dubuque34619
Louisa34511
Sioux2830
Pottawattamie2698
Jasper26017
Washington1898
Wright1780
Warren1350
Plymouth1332
Allamakee1204
Story1161
Mahaska9510
Poweshiek908
Henry711
Bremer696
Des Moines651
Boone650
Clinton641
Taylor560
Clarke560
Guthrie513
Cedar481
Benton431
Hamilton430
Webster421
Monroe385
Shelby370
Jones360
Clayton343
Osceola340
Buchanan330
Iowa330
Marion320
Cherokee310
Jefferson300
Cerro Gordo291
Madison292
Lee270
Fayette270
Monona250
Winneshiek240
Lyon240
Davis230
Harrison230
Dickinson210
Sac200
Grundy200
Mills190
Floyd191
Humboldt181
Clay170
Delaware171
Hardin170
Butler171
Lucas170
Emmet160
Hancock160
Appanoose143
Ida140
Page140
Franklin140
Keokuk140
Pocahontas130
Greene130
Howard120
Cass120
Audubon121
Jackson120
Carroll110
Winnebago110
Chickasaw100
Kossuth100
Adair90
Van Buren90
Union90
Montgomery80
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Fremont40
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
Mason City
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Albert Lea
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
Austin
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 73°
Charles City
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Powerful storms and summer-like conditions are coming our way
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

${item.thumbnail.title}

StormTeam 3: Today's Severe Weather Update

Image

Yoga studio closes space, tries new idea

Image

Forager Brewery welcomes new business

Image

Salons reopen at 25% capacity

Image

DMC's impact on Rochester's economic recovery

Image

Forager Brewery - best patio in Rochester

Image

Protests in Mason City

Image

Barbershop town hall discusses racial profiling

Image

Minnesota salons reopen

Image

Barbershop Talk: Town hall

Community Events