Nurse facing death sentence denies knowing of drugs, claims ill-treatment
August 1, 2012
"She is just devastated" ... Emma Louise L'Aiguille
AN AUSTRALIAN nurse facing the death sentence over Malaysian drug trafficking charges wept through her first court appearance yesterday, with her lawyer saying she has spent a horror fortnight in jail, after being denied access to vital medication and a doctor.
Emma Louise L'Aiguille, 34, was led into a Kuala Lumpur court yesterday handcuffed to another female prisoner. Seated among a group of 10 other female drug accused, she was charged with a count of drug trafficking under Malaysia's notorious Dangerous Drugs Act.
Anyone convicted of the possession of more than 50 grams of illicit drugs in Malaysia faces a mandatory death penalty. Both she and her co-accused, a Nigerian man, Anthony Ndidi Esikalam, were also charged with drug use.
The court heard that Ms L'Aiguille has been in and out of Malaysia on tourist visas since 2009 and was arrested in Kuala Lumpur on July 17 in the driver's seat of a parked car. A kilogram of amphetamine was found under a rear seat.
Mr Esikalam, a passenger in the vehicle, also faces the death penalty. The court heard that two other passengers, both Nigerian citizens and one understood to be Ms L'Aiguille's boyfriend, escaped arrest.
Ms L'Aiguille's lawyer, Dato' Sri Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, told the court his client had been denied basic rights during her fortnight in jail.
"During interrogation, she was slapped by police personnel after telling them she is suffering from depression and chest pains," Dr Abdullah said.
Another member of her defence team, Tania Scivetti, told the Herald: "She is just devastated, she's got no-one . . .
"She doesn't know anything about the drugs. She doesn't even know where they were found in the car."
The Department of Foreign Affairs said Australian consular officials had been allowed access to Ms L'Aiguille. "[But] we are concerned about allegations of mistreatment of the woman and are following up with the woman and her lawyers," a spokeswoman said.
When not in Malaysia Ms L'Aiguille had been working in Perth as a registered nurse in clinics, hospitals and aged care homes.
Dr Abdullah also asked the court that she be given access to her medication – the antidepressant drugs Serepax and Valium – and have a doctor treat her serious chest infection.
The prosecutor, Malini Anne, said Ms L'Aiguille would be sent to a doctor as soon as possible and given access to medication.
She will next appear before the courts on October 1.
She is the second Australian this year to possibly face the death penalty after being accused of drug trafficking.
A Perth man, Dominic Jude Christopher Bird, 32, was arrested on March 1 by police at a Kuala Lumpur coffee shop. They allege he tried to sell them 167 grams of methamphetamine.