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$20m cocaine importation case delayed

DEFENCE lawyers were not prepared to proceed with a case for three men charged over a Mackay 50kg cocaine bust because prisons had not given them enough time to meet with their clients.

Three men have pleaded guilty over a $20 million drug importation and faced Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday to be sentenced.

The sentencing for the three Colombians - Juan Pablo Ocampo Alvarez, 29, German Rendon Alvarez, 47, and Alexis Giovany Gomez Ruiz, 35 - was listed to span multiple days this week, with some facts still in dispute.

But on Monday morning defence lawyers for Mr Ocampo Alvarez and Mr Rendon Alvarez said they had not had enough time to meet with their clients.

On Monday the three men sat in the defendants' dock, each sitting next to his own interpreter. They were originally charged with conspiring to import and traffic commercial quantities of cocaine.

Damian Walsh, acting for Mr Ocampo Alvarez, said it had been difficult trying to get instructions from his client.

Mr Walsh said when he went to visit his client in prison a fortnight ago, he had to wait for more than an hour and was given only 25 minutes before he was told to leave.

Andrew Bale, acting for Mr Rendon Alvarez, said he had also faced difficulties in speaking with his client.

Mr Bale said the prison wouldn't let him book in an appointment to see Mr Rendon Alvarez until he was physically transferred to Brisbane from another Queensland prison.

"I've had two half-hour visits with him," he said.

Justice Debra Mullins adjourned the sentence hearings and told corrective services officers to allow the lawyers access to their clients within the court's prison cells "otherwise this sentence will just keep going on and on and on".

The case will be reviewed on Tuesday and the sentences are likely to proceed on Wednesday.

- APN NEWSDESK



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