Navigating the customs of other societies is always a tricky endeavour. Time and time again, we have heard cautionary tales of naive travellers who have upset local traditions, and have had to endure the unpleasant consequences of doing so. Perhaps the most recent example of this is Laura Plummer, whose story has been making headlines for several weeks now.
33-year-old Laura is said to be “facing the death penalty” after she was arrested in Egypt for carrying painkillers whilst on holiday there.
The shop worker was reprimanded for carrying prescription Tramadol pills that are worth £23. Laura had flown into a Red Sea beach resort for a two-week holiday with her Egyptian husband, Omar, who she jets out to see three or four times a year . Since being arrested, she has reportedly been held for a month in a 15ft by 15ft cell with 25 other women.
After reaching Hurghada airport in Egypt on the 9th October, Laura was held for five hours without an interpreter. She was made to sign a 38-page statement written in Arabic, that she believed would allow her to leave free.
Laura had brought in the Tramadol pills to give to her husband, who was recovering from a back injury. While Tramadol is available as a prescription drug in England, in other countries it is banned as heroin addicts can use it as a substitute.
Speaking to The Sun, Laura’s mother Roberta Sinclair, said:
“She had no idea she was doing anything wrong.
The painkillers were placed at the top of her suitcase, she wasn’t hiding them.
We’ve been told she’s facing either 25 years in prison or the death penalty. We’re beside ourselves worrying that they’ll make an example of her.”
The family have said that the last time that they had heard from Laura was via text, she had begged to her father Neville, saying “I’m in trouble and I need your help”. However, when he tried to respond, he discovered that her phone had been switched off.
Neville has purportedly spent 10,000 on legal bills since.
Laura’s mother, Roberta and her sisters, Rachel and Jayne, have travelled to Egypt to visit their incarcerated family member. Jayne said:
“She is still wearing the same clothes she flew out in.
When she came into court that first time she looked dead behind the eyes and was handcuffed to a 6ft 4in policeman holding a machine gun.
She kept saying, ‘please help me, please help me’. She looked like a little child again.”
And Laura’s brother, James Plummer added:
“It’s just blown out of proportion completely.
She’s so by the book, so routine, she just likes her own home comforts, watches Emmerdale every night or things like that, going to bed at nine o’clock every night.
They say she’s unrecognisable. When they seen her, she’s like a zombie, they said.”
Laura has been in court twice. In between each appearance, she was returned to her cell for 15 days at a time. She is due back in court on Thursday, and until then, we can only hope for her safe return.