Drug-case British student has sentence cut

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The Independent Online
A Moscow court yesterday cut the six-year labour-camp sentence on Karen Henderson, 19, a Briton convicted of smuggling cocaine. Despite protestations of innocence, Judge Natalia Arinkina again found her guilty but sentenced her to one year and 11 months in a camp. Because she has spent 22 months on remand, Henderson will be freed next month.

Henderson, who grew up in the Netherlands and was studying tourism there before her arrest, said it was a fact that "alien objects" were found in her case when she landed in Moscow from Havana but she was " devastated", because she had "never knowingly carried narcotics".

She wept when Judge Arinkina confirmed her predecessor's verdict of guilty. Henderson should be "isolated from society" but, in view of her "personality, youth and lack of a criminal record", the punishment ought to be softened, the judge said.During the trial an assistant lay judge fell asleep while evidence was being given, and the translation was so bad that Henderson's mother, giving a character assessment of her daughter, was quoted as saying she "sympathised with drug traffickers" when what she actually said was that she felt sorry for those who had become addicted to drugs.

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