A British woman has been sentenced to three years in prison for carrying 290 tablets of the painkiller tramadol in her suitcase which was found after she landed at the Hurghada airport in October.
Tramadol is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is addictive and popular among drug addicts who mix it with other drugs to get high. It is treated as a narcotic in a few countries including Egypt where an individual can be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years.
33-year-old Laura Plummer was sentenced by an Egyptian court on Tuesday on charges of drug smuggling and fined the equivalent of $5,611 for carrying the drug she claimed was for her sick Egyptian husband, Omar Abdel-Azim whom she visits regularly in the Red Sea town.
Her lawyers argued that her “confession” of intending to sell the drugs was mistaken because she did not understand the question in court. Mohamed Othman, told Reuters that Plummer did not know tramadol is a narcotic and the sentencing was not justified because 50mg of the drug in her country is a painkiller.
The British Foreign Office could not intervene in the case of Plummer despite series of statements calling for her release. “We 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,” they said after the ruling.
About 14 million tourists visit Egypt annually and many people are not aware of laws in the country including the ban on tramadol which attracts serious penalties.
In November, a month after the arrest of Laura Plummer, the UK added tramadol to their list of things prohibited while travelling to Egypt.