Cassie Sainsbury hopeful she will be cleared on drug mule charges, her lawyer says

After plea deal was rejected by judge, lawyer Orlando Herrán says the Australian woman’s claim she acted under threat frees her from any guilt

The Colombian lawyer for Australian drug mule Cassie Sainsbury is hopeful she may be declared not guilty after a judge rejected a plea deal that would have seen her serve six years in jail.

Judge Sergio Leon rejected the deal at a hearing Wednesday after Sainsbury told the court in July that she had been coerced into trying to smuggle nearly six kilograms of cocaine out of Colombia.

The claim that she acted under threat frees her from guilt, her lawyer Orlando Herrán told the Guardian.

León chastised prosecutors for proposing that the 22-year-old Adelaide woman plead guilty and accept a shorter jail sentence because under Colombian law, a person coerced into committing a crime under threat cannot be found guilty, even if caught red handed.

“She says they [the people who provided the drugs] told her that if she did not leave with that suitcase and with those drugs they would kill her family,” Herrán said.

Sainsbury “cannot plead guilty and say she was threatened at the same time,“ Herrán said. Sainsbury faces up to 30 years in jail if found guilty.

He added that it was now up to prosecutors to prove that she acted of her own volition and did not act under threat.

“Cassandra doesn’t have the personal resources for a private investigator to prove the threat,” Herran told reporters outside the court.

Lawyer says accused drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury was threatened

Prosecutors have up to 90 days to present their case to a trial judge.

Sainsbury was supported in court by mother Lisa Evans and fiance Scott Broadbridge, as well as Australian consular officials.

Sainsbury has claimed that she initially thought she would be transporting documents for someone in exchange for $10,000, but was later forced to carry drugs after being threatened.

The drugs were barely hidden among headphones packed in the luggage leading Herran to believe she was used as a decoy for a much larger shipment that went through the day in April when she was caught at the Bogota airport.

“Traffickers have a lot of experience hiding drugs in Colombia. It is infantile to think she would get through all the controls at the airport with the drugs so poorly hidden,” he said.

It is a scenario Herrán has seen often. “This is not an exceptional case in Colombia,” he said.


Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá

The GuardianTramp

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