Brazil tries UK graduates accused of fraud

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The Independent US

Two British law graduates arrested in Brazil on suspicion of fraudulently claiming they were robbed have gone on trial.



Shanti Andrews and Rebecca Turner, both 23, appeared in a court in Rio de Janeiro yesterday and admitted charges of attempted insurance fraud, according to local reports.

Brazilian newspaper O Globo said Ms Andrews told the court she and Ms Turner - who both studied at the University of Sussex - had a laptop stolen during a tourist excursion to the south of the country.

But the student admitted adding items that had not been stolen to the list, including a purse, a mobile phone and a digital camera, it was reported.

The court also heard from police who dealt with the students, with one officer saying his suspicions were raised by their quietness when they reported the losses, the paper said.

The graduates' lawyer, Renato Tonini, previously said the pair would plead guilty to attempted insurance fraud, with the likely punishment being a fine or community service.

It is expected the judge will decide on the punishment this week.

Ms Andrews, from Frant, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and Ms Turner, from Woolton Hill, near Newbury, Berkshire were arrested on July 26 after allegedly telling police that belongings totalling about £1,000 were stolen during a bus journey while they were on a nine-month world tour.

The pair were taken into custody but freed on bail a week later after their lawyer appealed against a judge's initial decision to refuse them bail.

They have been staying at a hotel in Rio, which they were bailed to following a court appearance earlier this month.

After their arrests, Ms Andrews' mother, Simone Headley, said the two friends were traumatised by their ordeal and that it had been a "misunderstanding" at the end of their trip.

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