Accused Australian drug mule Cassie Sainsbury could be released from a Colombian prison in as little as two years if a plea deal is approved by a judge.
Both the defence and prosecution have agreed to the terms of the deal, which specifies a maximum six-year jail term, a Bogota court heard on Friday, and the judge has retired to consider the deal and will announce a decision on November 1, AAP reported.
Under the deal the Adelaide woman could be released in as little as two years’ time with good behaviour and time already served, one source told the Nine Network.
The network’s Tom Steinfort, who is in Bogota covering the case, said on Saturday lawyers had made an application to the judge to ban media from entering the court room.
He said consular officials and her mother Lisa Evans were present throughout the hearing.
He said the judge would return to court on November 1 to announce whether the deal has been approved.
BREAKING: plea deal agreed between defence & prosecution – Cassie Sainsbury to serve six years jail in Colombia for drug trafficking pic.twitter.com/UazEBr88gE
— Tom Steinfort (@tomsteinfort) October 20, 2017
The 22-year-old was intercepted by authorities and arrested at El Dorado International Airport in April, where she was allegedly carrying 5.8 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside her suitcase.
The former gym owner, whose family claimed she was in Colombia on a working holiday, was preparing to board a flight to London on her way back to Australia when she was arrested.
Colombian police said the drugs were divided into 18 plastic bags and hidden inside boxes of headphones, which she claimed were bought as gifts for her bridal party guests.
Jorge Mendoza, Anti-Narcotic Police Ports and Airports director, said police were given a tip-off that Ms Sainsbury may have been carrying drugs out of the country.
He estimated the drugs were worth about US$1 million (A$1.3 million).
She originally faced up to 30 years in a Colombian prison.
Ms Sainsbury last appeared in court in August after sensationally claiming she was forced to carry the drugs in the face of death threats at an earlier sentencing hearing.
Judge Sergio Leon told the court at the time that in light of Ms Sainsbury’s testimony, he could not approve a six-year plea deal reached with prosecutors.
Under Colombian law, Ms Sainsbury would have had to admit to willingly attempting to smuggle cocaine out of the country to be eligible for a deal.
The plea deal, struck with prosecutors in July, was to serve a reduced prison term in exchange for accepting responsibility for drug trafficking and naming those behind the smuggling ring.