Diplomat: Progress Made Toward Prisoner Transfer in Peru Smuggling Case
An Estonian diplomat may have made a breakthrough in negotiations with Peruvian authorities in the case of two women being held over drug charges.
"Sten Schwede, the Estonian consul general in New York who was recently sent to Peru on a special [assignment], has succeeded in drawing the interest of local authorities to signing an agreement between Estonia and Peru for the transfer of prisoners," Eesti Päevaleht wrote today.
"In a meeting with Peruvian prison officials I explained that Gross and Kolk are very young and they do not speak Spanish, due to which they may be more vulnerable than other inmates. What I was able to achieve was that the the agency's head called the Cuzco prison director while I was present and asked him to give special attention to the situation of the Estonians,” said Schwede, who has since returned to New York. Schwede thanked the Estonian honorary consul in Lima, Francisco Espinosa Bellido.
In early October, two Estonian women, Anneli Kolk and Anne-Maarja Gross, were arrested after authorities found them in possession of six kilograms of cocaine at Cuzco Airport. They were charged on October 19, when a judge ordered a nine-month period of investigation. The women have since been at Cuzco prison. It was previously reported that it would be likely that the women would have to spend at least the first few years in the Peruvian prison, before they could be transferred to Estonia.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the number of Estonian citizens that have been detained for drug crimes in Peru and other Latin American countries has recently increased dramatically. At present, 37 Estonian citizens are serving prison sentences for drug crimes in six South American countries, including 15 inmates in Peru.