Joy for Greek model Eirini Melissaropoulou after jury clears her of smuggling HK$2.3 million worth of cocaine into HK

16-Mar-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

An aspiring Greek model who carried HK$2.3 million (US$294,872) worth of cocaine into Hong Kong skipped out of court in joy on Wednesday, after a jury unanimously found her not guilty of drug trafficking.

The High Court heard Eirini Melissaropoulou, 21, came to Hong Kong in the hopes of building her portfolio.

But her plans were dashed upon her arrival on November 20, 2017 when a customs officer intercepted her at Hong Kong International Airport and found 2.52kg of a cocaine mixture hidden in her backpack.

The mix, containing 2.09kg of pure cocaine, was valued at HK$2.3 million.

In a trial held 15 months later, prosecutors alleged the Greek national must have known drugs were concealed in the back lining of her backpack, as the bag was unusually heavy for personal items such as clothes, cream and perfume.

However, entering a plea of not guilty, Melissaropoulou denied knowledge of the drugs and said the backpack had been given to her by a friend named Petros.

She also said she had never used a structured hiking backpack before so she did not know how heavy it would be in the first place.

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“I didn’t know anything, I was in shock,” she testified through an interpreter. “My first thought was to call Petros to ask … He didn’t pick up. It’s as though he disappeared since.”

The jury of five men and two women found her not guilty after less than three hours of deliberations.

“You are free to go,” Madam Justice Esther Toh Lye-ping said.

Melissaropoulou, who had been in custody for the 15 months since her arrest, covered her mouth in disbelief while her parents cried and clapped in the public gallery.

My first thought was to call Petros to ask … He didn’t pick up. It’s as though he disappeared since

Eirini Melissaropoulou

The family declined to comment.

But their lawyer, Sakis Kechagioglou, said they were “very, very, very, very happy”.

“It was unexpected because I know the judicial system in China generally and in Hong Kong is quite severe concerning drug cases,” the Greek lawyer said. “But in this particular case, the seven jurors were persuaded that Eirini was innocent and was a victim of others.

“I express my full satisfaction in the judicial system here. I am very glad and happy.”

In Hong Kong, trafficking of dangerous drugs is punishable by life imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine.


Category: Hong Kong

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