British Woman Locked Up for Bringing Painkillers Into Egypt Loses Appeal

By John Smithies, Epoch Times
September 24, 2018 Updated: September 24, 2018

LONDON—A British woman who was imprisoned in Egypt because she brought hundreds of painkillers into the country has reportedly lost an appeal against her conviction.

Laura Plummer, 34, from Hull in northeast England, was sentenced to three years in prison for carrying 290 prescription Tramadol tablets in her suitcase in late 2017.

She was visiting her Egyptian husband, Omar, to take a two-week break near a Red Sea resort.

Plummer says the tablets were for his severe back pain.

Tramadol is an opioid available in Britain as a prescription medication, but it is a controlled drug in Egypt. It is used by some as a substitute for heroin. Plummer claimed that she didn’t know Tramadol was controlled in Egypt.

Plummer appeared in court wearing an all-white hijab, according to The Sun. She reportedly broke down in tears as her husband and family broke the news to her inside the Al Qanater prison that her appeal had been rejected.

Plummer told The Sun: “I thought the appeal judges would see sense and realize I couldn’t have known the tablets were banned. It’s just so absurd.

“I hate it. I hate it so much. I just want to come home. What don’t these people get? I wonder if I’ve died and this is hell.

“What did I do that was so wrong in my life to end up here?”

Ignorance of the Law Not a Defense

Britain’s Foreign Office and Plummer’s tour operator submitted paperwork to the court that they said demonstrated Plummer had no way to know the medication was banned, including evidence that an Egyptian website listing prohibited items was not up-to-date.

But the court said ignorance of the law could not be considered a defense, and upheld the original court’s decision.

Plummer’s mother Roberta Synclair told The Sun, “We’re disappointed, but not surprised. Each time we come to Egypt we prepare for the worst. Anything else is a bonus.”

Another appeal is possible but may be months away.

Lawyer Mohamed Osman said the failed appeal could be better for Plummer over the long term.

Osman told The Sun, “If the judge had accepted the appeal, he would have returned the criminal case back to the criminal court and Laura would have been starting again from the beginning.”

An online petition to help free Plummer garnered over 114,000 supporters and describes Plummer’s carrying £23 ($38) worth of the prescription painkiller Tramadol as “just an innocent mistake.”

Plummer is reported to have brought 29 strips of Tramadol, each containing 10 tablets, plus some Naproxen.

At the time of Plummer’s arrest, her brother James said the situation had been “blown out of proportion.”

“She’s so by the book, so routine, she just likes her own home comforts, watches ‘Emmerdale’ every night or things like that, going to bed at 9 o’clock every night,” he told PA.

“She has a phobia of using anybody else’s toilet, so let alone sharing a toilet and a floor with everybody else. That will be awful for her, it’ll be traumatizing.”

He added, “It’s awful for Laura. … She’s not a tough person at all. She’s only small.”

Additional reporting by Jane Gray

Follow John on Twitter: @jdsmithies