Paraguayan diplomats are calling on China to stop the execution of Rosalia Amarilla, a 31-year-old woman from Paraguay who is facing the death sentence in a Chinese prison following her 2012 arrest in Beijing for drug trafficking.
Amarilla was nabbed by security officials at Beijing’s main airport on July 24, 2012 with seven pounds of cocaine stuffed into her bra and underwear, the Associated Press reports. The drugs had been given to her by an acquaintance before she boarded a flight in Sao Paul, Brazil to Doha, Qatar then Beijing.
Prosecutors, diplomats and human rights activists argue that Amarilla, a clothing vendor, was forced to carry the cocaine, and senators have signed letters demanding her release. Friends and classmates of the inmate have also marched the streets to call on her freedom.
Amarilla’s family hopes that the campaigning will shed light on cases involving other Paraguayan woman who’ve been threatened and forced to serve as drug mules for international traffickers.
Elba Núñez, the regional coordinator of Latin American Women’s rights group CLADEM, described the trafficking of Paraguayans in particular as a “grave and very dangerous problem.” The rights group said that Amarilla’s traffickers are being sought in other cases of Paraguayan woman who were trapped “under severe threat”.
Chinese courts are reviewing the case in July, according to Paraguay’s Foreign Ministry. The Beijing High Court had approved a two-year suspension of her death sentence in July 2013. Chinese courts typically commute death sentences to life in prison after such suspensions.
Drug smuggling in China will typically result in a lengthy jail term, if not the death sentence, and defendants rarely get off. A couple from Australia who were caught trying to smuggle meth out of Guangzhou last month will likely be handed over to Chinese prosecutors and could face the death sentence as well. China law experts have advised that defendants’ best strategy is to draw publicity to the case “in order to embarrass officials in China’s notoriously rigged criminal justice system into treating them as best as possible,” ABC News Sydney reports.
[Image via ultimahora.com]