Italian in custody for overstaying

Elena Campitiello, an Italian who was charged for cocaine trafficking last year at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport but was granted bail, was detained twice by the police for overstaying in Guyana and is currently in custody.

Police arrested Campitiello at a city hotel on Thursday alleging that she had overstayed her three months but attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes who put in an appearance for the woman argued that the detention had no merit since she has an ongoing court matter in Guyana.

Campitiello was charged on Friday for staying in the country illegally after three months and appeared before Acting Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson-Ogle. She was released on self-bail but later in the day police went to the hotel where Campitiello is staying and re-arrested her saying they had instructions.

Hughes who has been in touch with the Italian consul in Guyana and the Italian ambassador based in Caracas, Venezuela said the authorities are concerned because Campitiello’s matter has “serious diplomatic implications.”  He has also contacted the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions Shalimar Ali-Hack and the Ministry of Affairs on the matter.

Last December Campitiello, 27, was reportedly nabbed at the airport with cocaine in her luggage. She denied the allegations and was remanded to prison but after a successful bail application in the High Court she was released.

According to the particulars of the cocaine charge, Campitiello allegedly tried to ship cocaine out of the country by saturating pieces of clothing with the drug before drying them.  It is alleged that she had in excess of two grammes of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking.

Campitiello told the court that she lives in Kenya, East Africa and works for SOS Organization, a charity that helps the poor in that country. Reports are that she arrived in Guyana on November 14 and stayed at a city hotel. She subsequently stayed in a rented apartment also located in the city.

On the day she was arrested, she had checked in at the airport for a flight to New York from where she would have journeyed  to Kenya. After she completed this process, officers from the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) checked her hand luggage where several pieces of clothing, including a towel and socks, suspected to have cocaine were found. After being told of the suspicion, Campitiello told CANU officers that the bag was given to her by a friend she had studied with in England and this was the same person who invited her to visit Guyana. She reportedly said that the friend was sending the clothing and other items for the poor in Kenya.

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