A British woman recently sentenced to three years in prison in Egypt for drug smuggling has been moved to a prison before her mother was able to say goodbye to her, her family has said.
Shop worker, Laura Plummer, from Hull, was arrested on 9 October after she was found to be carrying around 300 tramadol tablets in her suitcase
The painkiller is legal in the UK but banned in Egypt.
Plummer’s family said she was taking the tablets for her Egyptian partner, Omar Caboo, who suffers from severe back pain, and described her as “naive”.
Plummer’s sister, Rachel, said their mother, Roberta Synclair, was in court for the “devastating” judgment and had to watch as her daughter was taken away sobbing in a “cage”.
Rachel said her mother had been told Plummer would be held in police cells so she could visit her and take vital supplies.
But Synclair travelled to the cells on Wednesday only to find her daughter had already been transferred to a prison in Qena, the Press Association reported.
She said: “Mum was told that she was going to stay in the Safaga holding cell, the police holding cell, for the rest of the week so she can visit her, take her things that she needs, food and stuff.
“So she travelled in a taxi today all the way to Safaga, which is an hour away from where she is, to be told that Laura had gone.
“She went to Qena yesterday.
“Obviously that’s even more devastating for my mum because she’s not got to say goodbye to Laura.
“She’s not been able to give her her food and her things.”
Rachel said the prison in Qena is known to be a very difficult place to be but said reports her sister had already been attacked were not true.
She said: “No prisons are nice but I think Qena’s the bad one, which is terrifying for us because we fear for her so much.
“She’s just not cut out to be in a prison, even in a UK prison never mind a prison abroad.”
The judge only allowed translation from the court translator, leading to a situation where she may have given the wrong answers to some questions, giving the appearance she was confessing.
Rachel said: “I think it’s all wrong the way it’s been done. I don’t know if they were going on that, because of that mistake or what.”
She said her mother sat close to Plummer in court and they really thought she would be coming home.
“Laura was saying that she couldn’t wait to get back to work. She was speaking like she was coming home,” Rachel said.
“All the evidence was presented to show that this was a massive mistake and Laura’s intentions were as she said, just to treat Omar’s back pain.”
But, she said, the judges came back with their devastating judgment after two hours.
Rachel said: “Laura collapsed crying. She got led away. She got taken away in this cage.”
Speaking on BBC television, her sister Synclair said: “She’s on the verge of a mental breakdown...It’s just horrendous.
“From day one, this has been a complete nightmare.
“Yesterday in the court she wasn’t even allowed her own interpreter. She had to get the court’s interpreter who was interpreting the wrong answers.”
She told Sky News: “She’s absolutely terrified, she’s petrified... she looks shocking, she looks shock white, her hair has fallen out, her teeth are all discoloured, she’s got a rash all over her face, she couldn’t even stand up in court.”
Plummer’s family said she would lodge an immediate appeal, although Sky News sreported she would have to wait 60 days to apply for this.
The Plummers’ MP, Karl Turner, said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt had raised her case with Egyptian authorities.
He told BBC Radio 4′s The World At One: “I am hopeful that good sense will eventually prevail.
“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.”
A spokesman from Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “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.”