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BBC Scotland's Forbes McFall
"Irene Campbell's daughter says she fears for her mother"
 real 28k

Thursday, 6 April, 2000, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Fears for drug smuggling grandmother
Mrs Campbell was arrested on Margarita island
The daughter of a Scottish woman jailed for drug trafficking in Venezuela fears her mother may not survive the ordeal.

Irene Campbell, 56, from Glasgow, has begun a seven year sentence after police found 8kgs of cocaine in her luggage.

Her daughter, Linda Miller, who has visited her, voiced concerns that she did not receive a fair trial and said prison conditions were "very poor".

Irene Campbell
Irene Campbell (Courtesy of Scottish Daily Mail)
She said: "I don't think that unless something is done very quickly she will survive the ordeal.

"She has acute angina, she has a stomach ulcer and she's totally shocked."

Linda said her mother, who was arrested as she attempted to board a plane home following a two-week holiday on the island of Margarita, had foolishly agreed to take luggage belonging to someone connected with her son back to Britain.

She told BBC Scotland: "She'd been asked to take these back home for some guy and she had stupidly done it."

"She didn't think she would be so stupid as to get involved with something like that."

Spanish proceedings

Earlier, a lawyer for the family said they were actively pursuing indications that the Glasgow City Council care worker and grandmother did not receive a fair trial.

Gary McAteer said the trial was conducted in Spanish with proceedings translated for her by a Venezualan police officer.

Mrs Campbell was sentenced to six years and nine months in San Antonio jail on Margarita on Tuesday after pleading guilty to trying to smuggle 500,000 worth of drugs out of the country last week.

However, her daughter insisted she had only pleaded guilty because she was told the court would be lenient.

Gary McAteer
Gary McAteer: Doubts about trial
The speed of the trial and conviction shocked her family and have been described as "astonishing" by Scottish lawyers.

Mr McAteer said: "It was a Spanish speaking process. Her public defender, her lawyer - a woman I understand - was a Spanish speaker and a non-English speaker"

"The only interpreting service that was made available to her as I understand it was a policeman.

"A policeman was the interpreter, a policeman was the one to tell her she had no defence, a policeman was the one to give her the advice on the basis of which she pled guilty."

Mr McAteer said Mrs Campbell's family were now investigating the options available for an appeal.

Ms Miller, who travelled to Venezuela with her sister Audrey, said jail conditions were primitive and she has had to provide her mother with bedding and food.

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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Scotland
Cocaine haul gran jailed
03 Apr 00 | Scotland
Glasgow woman on cocaine charge
05 Apr 00 | Scotland
Concern over cocaine case
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