Graduates refused bail over Brazil allegations

Two British law graduates were "anxious and concerned" after being denied bail in Brazil over allegations they fraudulently claimed they had been robbed, their lawyer said today.



Shanti Andrews and Rebecca Turner, both 23, are being held in the tough Polinter prison south of Rio de Janeiro charged with attempted insurance fraud.

The pair, who both studied at the University of Sussex, told police in the Brazilian city that belongings totalling £1,000 had been stolen during a bus journey.

The pair were taken into custody at dawn on Monday after officers from a specialist tourist support unit apparently became suspicious that they had waited several days before reporting to police.

The website of the civil police of the state of Rio de Janeiro said the pair had tried to register a robbery of baggage and documents, alleging they had been attacked.

A subsequent search of their lodgings in Copacabana allegedly uncovered some of the belongings that they had originally told officers had been stolen.

Speaking from Rio de Janeiro today, their lawyer Renato Tonini said he was appealing against the judge's decision to refuse them bail.

He also said he was told by the judge that a decision would be made in up to four weeks' time on whether the charge they face has any merit.

Mr Tonini said: "We asked for their freedom on bail and the judge denied this on the grounds they were foreigners. We are appealing against this. In a worse-case situation, we will hear an answer to bail in a week's time."

The lawyer described the two women as being "anxious" and said: "They are very nervous and very concerned about their situation, and anxious too.

"They are in a tough prison but they are being treated well by both other prisoners and by the administration. They are being treated as if they were Brazilian.

"The general situation of our jails in Brazil is very, very bad, so the jail they are in is overcrowded, they have no beds to sleep in, they are sleeping on the floor and they don't have mattresses.

"They are simply sleeping on the floor with blankets, but we are fighting for their freedom right now. No plea has been entered to the charges yet.

"When I saw the judge yesterday, he told me that he will act very quickly and that in three to four weeks' time there will be a decision on the merit of the charges. The decision on bail will be decided first."

The charge faced by the two women carries a maximum prison sentence of more than three years, according to Mr Tonini, but that punishment, if found guilty, could also be meted out in the form of a fine or unpaid service.

Mr Tonini said he was "confident" that the women will be dealt with fairly by the Brazilian justice system following concerns voiced by Simone Headley, the mother of Miss Andrews, over their treatment.

"I think they will be treated fairly. Even though they are foreigners they will be treated in the same way as a Brazilian would facing the same charges," said Mr Tonini.

Ms Headley told earlier this week how the two friends were traumatised by their ordeal and that it had been a "misunderstanding" at the end of their nine-month journey around the world.

"We hope the Brazilian justice system will see it as a misunderstanding and the girls will be able to come home safely," said Ms Headley, who lives in Frant, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Ms Headley was unavailable to comment today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - School Playground Designer

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Traffic Planner

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the successful candidate you...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor