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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

British woman faces drug smuggling trial in Egypt

Laura Plummer, 33, was detained last month in the Red Sea area for taking nearly 300 tramadol tablets into the country

The Red Sea in Hurghada, a popular Egyptian resort where Laura Plummer was planning on spending two weeks on holiday with her partner Omar. AP / Hassan Ammar
The Red Sea in Hurghada, a popular Egyptian resort where Laura Plummer was planning on spending two weeks on holiday with her partner Omar. AP / Hassan Ammar

A British woman is facing trial in Egypt on charges of attempting to smuggle hundreds of banned painkillers into the country.

The woman, 33-year-old Laura Plummer from Hull, northern England, has maintained her innocence since her arrest last month and said the 290 tramadol tablets in her suitcase were for her Egyptian partner, Omar, who suffers from chronic back pain.

Tramadol is legal in Britain on prescription, but illegal in Egypt where it is known to be used as a heroin substitute.

No date has yet been set for her trial. However, convicted drug smugglers could face death by hanging in Egypt.

At Saturday's hearing, prosecutors renewed her detention for 15 days.

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Ms Plummer had flown into the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada for a two-week holiday with Omar, also 33.

She was detained at the airport on October 9 on suspicion of what Egyptian authorities consider drug trafficking.

After being detained, Ms Plummer signed her name beneath a 38-page statement in Arabic, believing that she would then be able to leave, The Sun newspaper reported. Since then, however, she has been held in jail.

She claimed she had “no idea” the drugs were banned in the country.

Her local member of parliament in the UK, Karl Turner, said the foreign office was now involved.

"The family describe Laura to me as somebody who is very naive," Mr Turner said.

"Her father said to me 'look, the truth is she wouldn't know tramadol from a panadol. She wouldn't have a clue that she was doing something unlawful'."

He added that a British embassy representative has been paying regular visits to Ms Plummer in jail.

Ms Plummer, a shop worker, met Omar four years ago and flew to Egypt four times a year to visit him.

Her father, Nevile Plummer, said his daughter's hair had started falling out due to stress.

“I don’t think she’s tough enough to survive it,” he said.

Ms Plummer's mother and two sisters have travelled to Egypt to visit her since her arrest.

"They [her mother and sisters] say she’s unrecognisable”, said Mr Plummer. “When they seen her, she’s like a zombie, they said.”