Legal Pros Weigh Up SA Woman’s Chances After Colombian Trafficking Charge

Legal experts and an author with an inside knowledge of the Colombian prison system have spoken regarding the 22-year-old Adelaide woman charged with drug trafficking in Bogota, with both saying it’s likely she’ll receive a fair trial. 

Flinders University’s Professor Andrew Goldsmith, an expert in criminal justice, said Cassie Sainsbury can expect an unbiased trial after 5.8kg of cocaine was found stashed within her luggage. 

Despite statements from Sainsbury’s family that the Colombian legal system may be corrupt and that authorities may choose to single her out, Prof Goldsmith said “I’m not aware of any Colombian judges looking to make an example of someone like her because she’s a foreigner.”

Prof Goldsmith added that “drug mule cases are a dime a dozen in Colombia,” reducing the likelihood of Sainsbury’s case being exceptional.

Australian National University’s Professor Donald Rothwell reckoned Colombia’s desire to improve its international perception after a tumultuous recent history means “they will try to make sure the case is dealt with fairly.”
Rusty Young, who has penned a book on Colombia’s prisons, agrees with that perception. He said “I’ve lived there for eight years, I’ve worked with the government there, and I believe, particularly for these sort of low-level cases, I don’t think the judicial system is corrupt at that level.”

That doesn’t mean Sainsbury has it easy, though. Young said he’d be “very concerned” if he were in her situation, given the violence and reported overcrowding in El Buen Pastor, the prison in which Sainsbury is currently being held. 

“It’s obviously still a very terrifying experience compared to living in comfortable Australia.”
It’s believed Sainsbury may face an extended wait to face a trial before a jury, and since Australia has no prisoner transfer agreement with the South American nation, she’d have to stay in the Colombian system to serve her time.
As for her case itself? Well, Prof Rothwell said “the facts as reported are pretty much against her.” We’ll keep you updated on this one.

Source: ABC / AdelaideNow.
Photo: Scotty Broadbridge / Facebook.