Relief as freed lawyer returns

FORMER Rosebery lawyer Sarah Armstrong is back in Tasmania for Christmas - two months after being stopped from leaving Mongolia.

 Ms Armstrong flew into Launceston last night after returning from Mongolia yesterday.

The 32-year-old was stopped at Ulan Bator airport in mid-October because authorities wanted to question her over corruption allegations centred on the former chief of Mongolia's mining authority. 

Ms Armstrong is a lawyer for Rio Tinto mining subsidiary SouthGobi Resources.

Her mother, Yvonne Armstrong, told The Age yesterday that she  called from Beijing on Monday night after she was allowed to board a plane from Mongolia.

``All I wanted to hear was that she was on a plane,'' Mrs Armstrong said.

``She said 'Mum, I just need a bit of space'.''

West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity described Ms Armstrong's return as ``the perfect Christmas present'' for her family.

``There was concern all over the West Coast -  everyone's been really nervous, seeing as it was so far away,'' he said.

``Everyone was very concerned about not only her  but her family.

``It was difficult for anybody to keep a handle on what was going on with the language barrier . . .  it was a bit of a mystery.''

On Christmas Eve, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman confirmed that Ms Armstrong had boarded a flight out of Mongolia.

She landed at Sydney Airport yesterday afternoon and got  a connecting flight to Tasmania last night to be reunited with her parents. 

SouthGobi Resources on Monday said Mongolia's Independent Authority Against Corruption  had ended its questioning of the lawyer. 

The IAAC told SouthGobi that the 32-year-old ``is no longer a suspect in their investigations'', the coal firm said. 

It is understood that Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Friday contacted the Mongolian ambassador to Australia about Ms Armstrong's case.  Senator Carr said   on Monday that Ms Armstrong being allowed to leave was ``great news'' and good timing so that  she could see her family for Christmas. 

Mongolian officials said Ms Armstrong was questioned over an investigation into the former chief of Mongolia's mining authority, who is suspected of illegally handling mining licences, according to Dow Jones Newswires. 

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