Bikya Masr Staff | 5 August 2012 —
An Ethiopian diplomat was jailed on Thursday after being convicted by a London court of attempting to smuggle a large amount of marijuana into the country at Heathrow International Airport.
Amelework Wondemagegne, an official at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, had tried to claim diplomatic immunity when she was caught at the airport in April with 56 kilograms of marijuana.
But Isleworth Crown Court in West London refused her claims and jailed her for 33 months after she admitted to the charges of drug smuggling.
The court had found that the 36-year-old was not entitled to immunity.
Judge Richard McGregor-Johnson told her: “The fact that you smuggled these drugs in the expectation that you would not be prosecuted if you were caught because of your diplomatic status is a significant factor in this case.”
Wondemagegne, a mother of two, initially said a man had given her three suitcases containing the packages of cannabis before she left Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.
She had said she had believed the packages contained meat and spices.
But the judge said Wondemagegne had told “a pack of lies.”
The quantity of cannabis she had tried to smuggle was “substantial,” he added.
“You knew perfectly well what you were doing,” he told her.
Wondemagegne’s two children, 10 and 17, are being cared for by the staff of the Ethiopian embassy in Washington.
Her husband passed away in 2005 from cancer.
She will be deported from the UK after serving out her sentence.