NO LAWYER: Finnish national Milja Annelli Copra, 63, is led out of the Arima Magistrates' Court yesterday by WPC Nichols of the Court and Process Branch. Copra appeared before Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas-Ragoonanan charged with possession of close to five kilogrammes of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. —Photo: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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Finnish woman 'can't speak English'

...no translator available

By Rickie Ramdass

FINNISH national Milja Annelli Copra made her first appearance in the Arima Magistrates' Court yesterday evening, charged with possession of close to five kilogrammes of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

The 63-year-old woman appeared before Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas-Ragoonanan in the First Court shortly before 5 p.m. However, upon her appearance, the charge brought against her was not read.

The reason for this was because Copra indicated to the court that she did not fully understand the English language. A Finnish translator was also unavailable in court when the matter was called.

The elderly woman was arrested on Friday at Piarco International Airport after officers of the Organised Crime Narcotics and Firearms Bureau (OCNFB) allegedly found 4.7 kilogrammes of cocaine hidden in her suitcase minutes before she was to board a Caribbean Airlines flight to Canada.

When questioned by the magistrate, Copra said she did not have a lawyer to represent her in the matter nor had she made contact with the Finnish Embassy in this country since her arrest.

An attorney representing the State told the magistrate it was his opinion that an attorney from the Legal Aid Board should be appointed to represent the woman.

However, Cardenas-Ragoonanan said such a move would prove to be useless as the attorney may not understand Copra's language.

She advised that the State make contact with the Finnish Embassy in order to have an attorney appointed to represent the woman. She said it was only when this was done that the matter could proceed.

Copra was remanded into custody at the Women's Prison in Arouca and will return to court on December 31.

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