British drug teens jailed in Ghana to be freed soon

Two British teenagers jailed in Ghana for drug smuggling will be free to come home in less than three months, it emerged today.

Yasemin Vatansever and Yatunde Diya, both 16, were today given nine-month jail sentences by a court in Accra which include the time they have already spent behind bars.

Because they have been in prison since first being arrested last July they have less than three months of the sentence to complete.

The girls, from London, were held on July 2 at Accra’s airport after anti-drugs officers found 13 lbs of cocaine in two laptop bags they were carrying as they boarded a flight to Britain.

A spokesman for the Ghana narcotics board said the girls will be released on April 18.

He added: ``The girls get a second chance not to repeat what they did. The message is clear to everybody. Once you do it and get caught you will pay for it.''

He said they will serve the remainder of their sentences at a juvenile detention centre in the capital, Accra.

Asked if the girls might be sent home to England to serve out their time, a British High Commission spokesman said such a move would not make sense.

“The crime was committed here, the trial was held here, and that’s it,” he said.

The head of the girls’ legal team had previously said they planned to appeal against the conviction.

Officials have said the two were recruited in London by drug traffickers who promised them an all-expenses-paid vacation in Ghana in return for serving as drug couriers.

They left for Africa telling their parents they were going to France.

West Africa is increasingly becoming a transit point for drugs headed to Europe. Cocaine, mostly from Colombia, is brought on small planes and dropped on islands off the little-policed Atlantic Ocean coast, then distributed to couriers who carry it into Europe.

British and Ghanaian officials began collaborating last year after a surge in drug-related arrests at London airports linked to West African flights.

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