Cassie Sainsbury: Australian jailed in Colombia over cocaine

image copyrightPolicía Nacional de Colombia
image captionCassie Sainsbury was arrested at a Bogotá airport in April

An Australian woman has been sentenced to up to six years in prison in Colombia for trafficking cocaine.

Cassie Sainsbury, 22, was arrested at a Bogotá airport in April with 5.8kg (13lb) of cocaine in her luggage.

A judge accepted the sentence after Ms Sainsbury reached a plea deal with prosecutors. She was also fined $90,000 (£68,000).

Her case drew significant interest in Australia after she claimed she had been coerced into carrying the drugs.

According to relatives, Ms Sainsbury had just finished a working holiday when she was arrested at El Dorado International Airport.

Ms Sainsbury told a court in Bogotá earlier this year that she had been threatened by a man with a gun.

She said the man had sent her photos of her family with a warning they would be harmed if she did not transport the drugs.

Avoiding trial

Ms Sainsbury's lawyer, Orlando Herran, said the length of the sentence reflected her claims about being coerced. He said she could face a shorter sentence with good conduct in jail.

"To obtain the freedom for Cassandra will be about three years," Mr Herran said outside the court.

A previous attempt to secure a plea bargain failed in August. Ms Sainsbury had been facing up to 30 years in jail if convicted at a trial.

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Colombia are severe and offenders can expect long prison sentences under harsh conditions.

The country is one of the main drug-growing nations in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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