PARIS -- Beatrice Saubin returned home to France Sunday after 10 years in a Malaysian prison on charges of drug trafficking that she always denied.
Dressed in a green suit, wearing sun glasses and carrying a bouquet of flowers, Saubin, 31, arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris after a flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Her return ended a 10-year ordeal that began with her arrest Jan. 27, 1980, at Bayan Lepas International Airport in northern Malaysia when authorities discovered 2.2 pounds of heroin in her suitcase.
Saubin always denied she knew about the heroin, insisting it was placed in the suitcase by a Chinese friend. Didier Decoin, a French writer who in 1977 won the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary prize, wrote a book in 1984 on the case in which he concluded that Saubin was the victim of a judicial error.
The young woman, a former Paris secretary who had spent several months travelling through Asia, was condemned to death by a Malaysian court shortly after her arrest. But two months later Malaysia's highest tribunal reduced the sentence to life imprisonment following a public outcry in France.
Saubin left Kajang Prison in northern Malaysia Friday evening, warning about the dangers of drug abuse and wearing the traditional black robes used by practicing Muslims in a vain effort to avoid being recognized.
Authorities said the young woman was released because of her good conduct in prison.
During her detention Saubin learned Malaysian and worked closely with other inmates. She spent the past three years working in the prison hospital, where she says she learned the devastation drugs can cause.
Seventy persons, including 36 foreigners, have been hanged in Malaysia for drug trafficking since 1975.