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Cyprus

Ten years for smuggling cannabis

LARNACA Criminal Court on Thursday sentenced a Romanian national to 10 years imprisonment for smuggling 20kg of cannabis into the island.

Christina Alempi, 24, had pleaded guilty to the charges. The court decided to impose the stiff penalty despite her full cooperation with authorities.

The court handed her 10 years jail for illegal importation and another 10 years for illegal possession; the sentences will run concurrently.

Alempi, a resident of Greece, was arrested at Larnaca airport on the night of May 30 on a flight from Athens. Police and customs, acting on a tipoff, searched her luggage, finding 20.4kg of cannabis.

She subsequently agreed to work with police in a sting operation. On the same night, Alempi led police to a homestead in the Kokkinohoria area, where she was supposed to hand the drugs over to two men.

During the exchange, police officers swooped in and arrested the two men, aged 26 and 36, on the spot.

Alempi has agreed to testify against the two men when they stand trial next month.

Police said also that an arrest warrant has been issued for the suspected mastermind of the case, who is believed to be residing in the north of the island. Alempi will also be testifying for the prosecution once the man is arrested.

In pronouncing sentence, presiding judge Nicolas Sandis said the court took into account, as mitigating circumstances, Alempi’s young age as well as her cooperation with police.

Hearing the verdict, Alempi broke out in tears.

Her defence attorney, arguing for mitigation, said Alempi had displayed depression while in custody at the Central Prisons. He went on to claim the woman tried to commit suicide on August 15.

She was a child from a broken home, her parents divorcing when she was 15 years old. According to her attorney, Alempi had been the victim of rape and incest at the hands of her grandfather. The abuse started when she 12 and continued until she was 18.

Alempi had been paid €1500 for smuggling the drugs into Cyprus.

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