Judge rejects Cassandra Sainsbury's plea deal in Colombia

Cassandra Sainsbury arrives at court in July. Photo: AP
Cassandra Sainsbury arrives at court in July. Photo: AP

Bogota: Australian drug mule Cassie Sainsbury will stand trial for trying to smuggle nearly six kilograms of cocaine out of Colombia after a judge rejected a plea deal.

Judge Sergio Leon rejected the deal the 22-year-old Adelaide woman struck with Colombian prosecutors in July for a reduced jail term of six years in return for naming people behind a drug smuggling ring.

His decision comes after Sainsbury, who now faces up to 30 years in jail if found guilty, claimed she'd only agreed to smuggle 5.8 kilograms of cocaine after her family was threatened.

Before Sainbury's court appearance, her Colombian lawyer said she would maintain her stance that she was threatened.

"As the defence, we don't have the resources of the prosecution," Ms Sainsbury's Colombian lawyer, Orlando Herr??n said, in front of the court house.

"At the moment, we only have Cassandra's word about the threat. Cassandra doesn't have the personal resources for a private investigator to prove the threat," he said.

Ms Sainsbury arrived at court at 2.26pm local time, in Bogota, Colombia amid high security and swirling speculation as to whether she will lose the plea deal from the last hearing.

Ms Sainsbury was glimpsed by press as she arrived, escorted by imposing female prison officers.

The South Australian's mother, Lisa Evans, and her boyfriend Scott Broadbridge had earlier worked their way through a waiting Australian press pack.

Ms Sainsbury was captured nearly four months ago, on April 12. Local police, allegedly acting on a tip-off, found 5.8 kilograms of cocaine distributed between sets of headphones in her luggage.

Colombia's Penal Code states that carrying more than 2 kilograms of cocaine requires a minimum of 10 years, 8 months and a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.

The plea deal, which still remains on the table, could see this reduced to a maximum of six years, with the possibility of a reduced sentence from good behaviour and willingness to learn Spanish.

This new hearing was called because Ms Sainsbury said during her previous hearing that she had been threatened into taking the drugs. This caused a disruption in the planned proceedings, as this had not been part of the carefully put-together plea deal.