KUALA LUMPUR: For more than four years, Malaysian Syzlin Hataman was behind bars in a prison in Peru for drug trafficking but was freed under a programme.
However, just before the Malaysian government could help her get back to Malaysia along with two others, she died two days ago.
Syzlin, 43, who had asthma and diabetes, succumbed to health complications in a hospital in Lima on Saturday morning.
The Umno welfare bureau (BiKUM) is in talks with Wisma Putra to bring home Syzlin’s body and two other Malaysian women in Peru whom they described as “victims” of an international drug trafficking syndicate.
Syzlin from Johor was detained on May 19, 2010, at the Jorge Chavez International Airport for attempting to smuggle cocaine weighing 2.59kg.
She was fined and sentenced to six years and eight months imprisonment on Sept 17, 2010.
But after serving two-thirds of her sentence (slightly over four years) in a Peruvian correctional facility, the Peruvian Court granted Syzlin half-free status to allow her to serve the remaining for her sentence outside prison.
“BiKUM will help the bereaved family manage the funeral arrangements and expenses,” BiKUM chairman Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said in a press conference on Monday.
He said they will decide on whether to bury the body in Peru, an arrangement estimated to cost over RM100,000 due to the purchase of a funeral plot, or to fly the body back to Malaysia.
“Plans are also underway to arrange the return of two Malaysian women who have been stranded in Peru despite completing their prison sentence,” Shamsul Anuar said.
“However, it is a very complicated process as the women have children from their former Peruvian partners,” he added.
Shamsul Anuar explained that the children have Peruvian citizenship and thus required special documentation from the Peruvian government.
The two women, Noor Azimah Sapie, 37, and Noor Suzanna Azmi, 36, were also former drug mules.
According to Shamsul Anuar, Noor Azimah is a single mother to a daughter. She was en route to the United States to smuggle drugs but was abandoned in Peru by the syndicate after she was denied entry to the United States.
The Terengganu native has been stranded in Peru for close to 10 years.
Meanwhile, Noor Suzanna was sentenced to seven years jail for drug trafficking.
Originally from Kuala Lumpur, she is now married to a Peruvian and has three children. Her eldest child is from a former partner who is currently serving time in prison for drug trafficking.
Shamsul Anuar added that the need to receive the former partner’s consent for the child to move to Malaysia has further complicated the process.
He said BiKUM had initially estimated that it would cost about RM50,000 for the return of each individual, including the flights and documentation.
“Umno will bear the financial costs to bring them home safely and reunite them with their families,” Shamsul Anuar said.
“We hope that after they return, the women can help raise awareness amongst Malaysians about the implications of drug trafficking,” he added.