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UK girls get nine months for Ghana drugs

  • Story Highlights
  • British teens sentenced to nine months in prison for trying to smuggle cocaine
  • The duo, both 16, were arrested in Ghana on July 2, 2007 at Accra's airport
  • Girls unlikely to serve whole sentence as have been in jail more than 6 months
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A juvenile court in Ghana has sentenced two teenage girls from Great Britain to nine months in jail for trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country, Ghana's national news agency said Wednesday.

The girls were stopped by customs officials at Accra trying to smuggle drugs back to Britain.

The 16-year-olds will not have to serve the full sentence because they have already spent more than six months in jail, a British Foreign Office spokesman said.

Fair Trials International, a UK-based group that provided legal assistance to the pair, said in a statement Wednesday that it will decide in the coming days whether to appeal. The girls faced a maximum sentence of three years but are expected to be released on April 18, the group said.

For now, the girls are housed in a correctional home for girls in the country's capital, Accra.

Ghanaian police arrested the teenagers as they were readying to board a British Airways flight back to London last July.

When officials searched their laptop bags as part of departure formalities, they found about 6 kg (13 lbs) of cocaine, the Ghana News Agency and British media reports said.

Authorities in Ghana said a man paid the girls 6,000 pounds (about $11,700) to fly to Ghana to retrieve the laptop bags containing the drugs from two of his associates, the news agency added.

Those men have not been caught.

Fair Trials called the girls "pawns in a larger operation.

"It is deeply unfortunate that they, and not the men who lured them to Ghana, are bearing the consequences," said the group's chief executive, Catherine Wolthuizen.

Ghana and other West African countries have become a transit point for drugs headed to Europe. The girls were arrested in a joint Britain-Ghana drug detection operation, the United Kingdom's customs agency said Wednesday. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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