Li Dandan pulled her mother in a tight embrace as soon as she emerged from a Hong Kong court’s cell holding unit, free at last from a drug trafficking case hanging over her head for nearly 3 years.
On November 7, 2015, Li was intercepted at Hong Kong International Airport while en route to Malaysia to help deliver clothing samples for her Nigerian boyfriend, IK, who said he would set up business in her home province of Guangdong.
In a backpack she carried were 1,983 grams of crystalline solids stored in a hidden compartment sewn into its linings.
Hong Kong prosecutors said the single mother, now 33, had trafficked 1,934 grams of methamphetamine, a drug more commonly known as Ice, worth HK$580,000 (US$73,900).
But Li told a different story: of a love scam in which she was conned into making deliveries for a man she trusted. “I dated this Nigerian man because he did not smoke or drink.
He struck me as a hardworking person,” she wrote in a letter to Rev John Wotherspoon, prison chaplain in July 2016. “I could not believe he was a drug trafficker.”
To help prove her innocence, Wotherspoon travelled to Malaysia, Bangkok, Thailand, and Guangzhou to track down IK, with the Nigerian’s picture in hand.
He visited the restaurant and hotel where they stayed together, found his address in Malaysia, and passed on the information to Hong Kong police. At trial, he testified for the defence as a character witness.
On Thursday, Li was found not guilty of drug trafficking by a unanimous jury verdict following a week-long retrial held after the previous jury had returned a split verdict of 4-3.