Debbie Voulgaris: Ex-husband of mother-of-five accused of smuggling 7kg of cocaine and heroin into Taiwan breaks his silence

Aussie mum accused of drug trafficking in Taiwan She faces the death penalty if found guilty  READ MORE: Miracle updated for Australian dad facing death penalty in Bali

EXCLUSIVE 

The ex-husband of an Australian mother-of-five who is accused of smuggling 7kg of cocaine and heroin into Taiwan has claimed the pair are innocent and were set up by drug traffickers.

Debbie Voulgaris, 57, was arrested at Taoyuan International Airport in December after the drugs were allegedly found in black plastic bags inside her suitcase.

Taiwanese police allege she initially 'vehemently denied' she had known about the drugs, before later claiming her ex-husband John was behind the scheme.

Ms Voulgaris remains in custody in Taiwan and is banned from speaking to Mr Voulgaris, who is based in Melbourne.

If convicted under the East Asian Island's strict laws, she could face the firing squad.

Debbie Voulgaris, 57, was arrested at Taoyuan International Airport in December after drugs were allegedly found in black plastic bags inside her suitcase

Debbie Voulgaris, 57, was arrested at Taoyuan International Airport in December after drugs were allegedly found in black plastic bags inside her suitcase

Her ex-husband John Voulgaris says his wife was 'set up' by traffickers

Her ex-husband John Voulgaris says his wife was 'set up' by traffickers

Speaking to Daily Mail Australia on Thursday, Mr Voulgaris angrily denounced the allegations.

'She is bloody innocent!' he raged.

'We have been set up!

'We don't know anything about bloody drugs and have never seen or touched them in our lives!'

Mr Voulgaris, who runs a home loan company, said he and his ex-wife were scammed by criminals posing as overseas investors.

He said he first met the group 16 years ago and had even attended a bank with them in Taiwan in 2007 as part of their business proceedings.

Over the years, they remained in contact. However, he said their solicitor recently got in touch with a new proposal.

'All we were doing was an overseas investment,' he said.

'They wanted to invest. I sent $3million out of my money...

'When I found out [about her arrest], I tried to get in contact with them but they switched off their phones.

'She hasn't done anything wrong!'

Speaking to the ABC this week, Ms Voulgaris' lawyer Leon Huang said it was 'essential' her ex took the stand as he was the only person who can confirm her claims.

Debbie Voulgaris, 57, was arrested at Taoyuan International Airport in December after drugs were allegedly found in black plastic bags inside her luggage

Debbie Voulgaris, 57, was arrested at Taoyuan International Airport in December after drugs were allegedly found in black plastic bags inside her luggage

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Taiwanese police allege Ms Voulgaris was handed the category one drugs in Malaysia around December 10 before she flew to Taiwan.

They further allege the Aussie mum was paid $US1,800 (AUD$2,700) to take the drugs in addition to her accommodation and transport costs.

The drugs had a street value of about $1.25million, according to Chen Po-chuan, the captain of Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Brigade.

Mr Po-chaun said Ms Voulgaris told authorities she was in Taiwan for a holiday.

He said officers had been sent to her hotel to see if anyone came to collect the drugs, but no one had arrived. 

Ms Voulgaris has been detained in a Taiwanese prison since her arrest.

Her lawyer Leon Huang said his client was a 'good-natured person' who 'believed people easily' and had been used as a drug 'mule'.

'Based on her description… it appeared that number one, Ms Debbie Voulgaris was not aware of the nature of her travelling,' Mr Huang said.

'And number two, she had no idea of what's placed inside and under her luggage, because there is a hidden compartment and she wasn't aware of that.'

Mr Huang said that because his client had admitted guilt early, while still maintaining she didn't know about the drugs, she may avoid the death penalty.

'If the court finds someone worthy of sympathy, like Debbie's case, typically, they would not want to offer the option of death sentence,' he said.

Authorities allegedly discovered 7kg of cocaine and heroine inside her luggage (pictured)

Authorities allegedly discovered 7kg of cocaine and heroine inside her luggage (pictured)

Taoyuan District Prosecutors alleged Ms Voulgaris was part of a 'drug transport syndicate' in documents submitted to a Taiwanese court.

'Although the defendant confessed to the crime during the court's preparatory proceedings, it is noted that she had previously vehemently denied the crime during the investigation and detention interrogation by this court, and her statements have been inconsistent,' the documents state.

'Notably, the defendant claimed that the co-conspirator, John, who instructed her to bring category one narcotics to Taiwan, is her ex-husband, indicating a close relationship.

'The defendant and her lawyer requested that John be summoned to testify during the preparatory proceedings, implying that there remains a risk of collusion with John before his testimony.'

Ms Voulgaris has been denied visits from family members but can speak with her legal team and officials from the Australian Office in Taipei.

A application for her release was denied in March, with judges Cai Yirong and Hou Jingyun ruling there was substantial evidence she was a flight risk.

Her lawyers had argued their client hadn't spoken with family in three months, was struggling to adapt to Chinese food and could not speak Chinese.

Voulgaris was arrested at Taoyuan International Airport (pictured) in December

Voulgaris was arrested at Taoyuan International Airport (pictured) in December

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However, the judges ruled these were 'not factors to be considered when determining the necessity of detention'.

'It is noted that the defendant's daughter is aware of John's contact information, therefore it cannot be ruled out that the defendant could use her daughter to contact John, making this request [for contact] ungrantable,' they said.

Ms Voulgaris will next appear in court in August. She could face the death penalty or life in prison if found guilty or a minimum of five years behind bars.

However, the chances she receives the death penalty are unlikely after Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled last August that imposing a life sentence or the death penalty for drug offences is partly unconstitutional.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said a detained Australian woman in Taiwan was receiving consular assistance.

A change.org petition for Voulgaris's release has received 3,000 signatures.

'Anyone who knows her or has met her, understands the pure, kind heart she has,' the author of the petition wrote.

'She is a mother to five children and she could be facing a death penalty or life in prison. Please sign the petition to help towards the freedom of an innocent, pure-hearted mother.'

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