Alleged Australian drug mule Cassie Sainsbury could face decades in a Colombian prison after a judge threw out her plea bargain over a cocaine-trafficking deal between her lawyers and prosecutors.
Judge Leon rejected the plea agreement on the grounds she did not accept full responsibility for trying to smuggle drugs.
The judge read out testimony given by Sainsbury on May 18, detailing how she was threatened by a man in Bogota threatened her with a gun and sent her photos of her family.
Inside court, Sainsbury claimed the man named Angelo said she was being watched and her family and partner would be killed if she did not carry the drugs.
She told the judge she had desperately needed $10,000 and contacted a man named ‘Nathan’ through a website in Hong Kong, believe she was being asked to carry sensitive documents.
Money was transferred through a Western Union account in Bogota.
Here she repeated her claim she was forced to carry drugs and threatened at gunpoint.
Judge Leon said he could not accept the plea deal because under Colombian law, Sainsbury would have to admit to willingly attempting to smuggle cocaine out of the country.
The plea deal struck with prosecutors in July would have resulted in Sainsbury serving a reduced six-year jail sentence in exchange for accepting responsibility for drug trafficking if the judge accepted the deal.
Prosecutors has up to 120 days to present evidence prove Sainsbury’s intention to smuggle drugs for money.
Sainsbury’s lawyer Orlando Herran claimed the judge did not believe the prosecution had a strong case.
Sainsbury was arrested and detained at El Dorado International Airport in Bogota in April after an X-ray machine detected cocaine hidden in her luggage.
Sainsbury was arrested at the airport in the Colombian capital Bogota in April with 5.8 kilograms of cocaine hidden in her luggage.
Colombian police said the drugs were divided into 18 plastic bags and hidden within boxes of headphones, which she claimed were bought as gifts for her bridal party guests.
Anti-Narcotic Police Ports and Airports director Jorge Mendoza said police were given a tip-off Sainsbury may be carrying drugs out of the country.
He estimated the drugs were worth about US$1 million.
Mr Herran said Sainsbury was going against her legal team’s advice to accept the six-year plea deal agreed to by prosecutors at her last court appearance.
He said she wanted to gamble on a trial, that could result between 21 and 30 years if she is not able to prove her claim that she was threatened.