Friday, July 3, 2015
Guangzhou: An intellectually-disabled Australian man detained in China for more than a year could face the death penalty after being charged with smuggling more than two kilograms of the drug crystal methamphetamine.
Lawyers acting for 26-year-old Ibrahim Jalloh say he was tricked into becoming an unwitting drug mule by members of an international syndicate who preyed on his naivety.
The man named in the Chinese court as the main instigator became friends with Mr Jalloh through casual soccer games and eventually convinced him to travel to Guangzhou to bring back “important documents” in return for $15,000 last June.
Mr Jalloh, who was born in war-torn Sierra Leone before moving with his family to Australia when he was 17, was arrested at Guangzhou’s international airport attempting to board a flight back to Brisbane via Singapore. He said he had not checked the contents of the suitcase he was given in Guangzhou because it was locked and he wasn’t given a key.
“[name withheld] just told me it was some important documents,” Mr Jalloh said. “He never told me it was drugs inside. If it was drugs, I cannot [sic] leave Australia to do this.”
The man is facing separate charges in Australia on conspiracy to import drugs from China. He is alleged to have sent another Australian drug mule jailed in Guangzhou, Queensland man Bengali Sherrif.
Mr Sherrif was arrested in similar circumstances to Mr Jalloh just days apart, and is awaiting the outcome of an appeal of his suspended death sentence.
Mr Jalloh receives a full disability pension in Australia and his lawyers produced two independent medical opinions from Australian doctors attesting to the fact that his intellectual disability hampered his judgement and made him easy to manipulate.Mr Jalloh is one of several Australians on serious drug charges in Guangzhou who say they have been set up by international drug syndicates operating out of the southern metropolis – a major regional drug hub which has become Australia’s largest source of methamphetamine in recent years.