Jan 28, 2021

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Maori News & Indigenous Views

Wahine sentenced of drug smuggling in Argentina plans to fight conviction (RadioNZ)

3 min read

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says an Argentinian court has sentenced a New Zealand woman to nearly five years in prison for drug smuggling.

Sharon Armstrong, a former deputy chief executive at the Maori Language Commission, was arrested in April last year after trying to board a plane with 5kg of cocaine in a suitcase.

She has been sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison, having already spent 11 months in a jail in Ezeiza, on the outskirts of the capital, Buenos Aires.

Ms Armstrong’s family say she was a victim of an online dating scam.

They say she was on her way to meet a man she had met online in London, but at the last minute was asked to divert to Buenos Aires to pick up some paperwork in a briefcase, which turned out to contain the drugs.

A British newpaperThe Independentreports the judge accepted that version of events but still convicted her.

Copyright 2012, Radio New Zealand

Clio Francis of the Stuff writes that this comes as Sharon Armstrong has written of the joy of a family visit to her Argentinian prison cell and given thanks for a yearly subscription to a Kiwi gossip magazine.

A former top Wellington public servant, Armstrong, 54, was arrested at Buenos Aires airport on April 13 last year after 5kg of cocaine was discovered in the false bottom of her suitcase. She denies knowing the drugs were in her bag and says she was duped into carrying them by a man she met online.

Armstrong has now been in a Buenos Aires prison for nearly a year.

“February seemed to pass by in a blur,” she wrote on her website. “The best part of the past month was the five days I got to spend with my darling daughter and sister.”

Her sister Leanne and daughter Ariana had been able to visit her for five hours a day, she said.

“It was wonderful to see them, hold them, laugh with them and cry with them. They succeeded in topping up my emotional bank with lots of cuddles and kisses from the rest of my whanau.”

They shared chips, M&Ms and skittles, as well as baked goods made by other inmates.

“Although it was heartbreaking to see them go I still feel surrounded by their love and I am so grateful to everyone who helped make their trip a reality.”

Her legal fight was continuing and a result could be a while coming, she said.

“In the meantime my fitness continues to improve and whenever I feel a bit down I push myself to do some physical exercise. It really helps me get through the emotionally tough times.”

She was particularly looking forward to an upcoming prison literature studies class.

“I have had a sneak preview of the content and I’m excited. I’m especially looking forward to the debates and opportunities to share our respective countries’ histories and experiences of colonisation and to learn about others as well. Woohoo!!!. Some intellectual stimulation!”

And she saved a special thank you for a friend who gave her a year’s subscription to Woman’s Day.

– Fairfax NZ News

2 thoughts on “Wahine sentenced of drug smuggling in Argentina plans to fight conviction (RadioNZ)

  1. Yeah it is pretty astounding how women are still duped…but let’s face it, best not to judge cos nek minnut it happens to you….it does happen to the most educated and on to it women….it’s all about how you deal with it and it sounds like she’s doing great, and will take a heap of learnings from this experience…we are all human, we all make bad judgement calls….she needs our awhi not condemnation…

  2. if she is guilty of stupidity my heart feels for her.If she is ignorent or uncaring of what drugs have done,not just to our people but millions throughout the world then I am bloody furious.Our kids need role models not people who dont give a crap,in their lives.With all the publicity about not carrying packages for others through customs makes you wonder how a supposedly intelligent and wordly person could have been stupid enough to do it.

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