Monday, August 03, 2009

Rio arrest pair 'to avoid jail' !

Shanti Andrews (left) and Rebecca Turner
The women were pictured coming out the Tourist Police office on 27 July

A lawyer for two British law graduates charged with attempted insurance fraud in Brazil has said he believes they will not have to return to prison.

Renato Tonini said he was confident that even if Shanti Andrews and Rebecca Turner were convicted, they would not be sent to jail.

The women, both 23, are awaiting a court hearing in Rio de Janeiro.

The women claim they were robbed but the police allegedly uncovered some of the items in their Rio hostel room.

They were freed on bail on Saturday ahead of the court appearance on Wednesday.

Mr Tonini said the women, both University of Sussex law graduates, will have the charge of attempted insurance fraud read to them in English during the hearing.

Speaking from Rio de Janeiro, he said: "I'm very confident that they will not be going back to prison.

"Even if they are convicted, I think a fine would solve the problem."

Miss Turner, from Woolton Hill, near Newbury, Berkshire, and Miss Andrews were due to return to England last week after a nine-month trip around the world.

Mr Tonini said he hoped a judgment would be made on the merit of the charge in up to four weeks' time.

He said the women had voluntarily surrendered their passports to the Brazilian authorities to show they had no intention of fleeing.

 Rebecca Turner and Shanti Andrews
Brazilian police released this picture of the girls in fancy dress

The pair are alleged to have told police that belongings worth £1,000 had been stolen during a bus journey.

They were arrested on 27 July after officers from a specialist tourist support unit apparently became suspicious that they had waited several days before reporting the theft to police.

The website of Rio de Janeiro state's civil police said the pair had tried to register a robbery, alleging they had been attacked.

A subsequent search of their lodgings in Copacabana allegedly uncovered some of the belongings that they had originally told officers had been stolen.

Following their arrest, Miss Andrews' mother, Simone Headley, who lives in Frant, East Sussex, said the two friends were traumatised by their ordeal and that it had been a "misunderstanding".




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