Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Video: New footage of drug bust girls inside Peruvian jail

'Smuggle cocaine or die' - Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid plead innocence

Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid have spoken from inside the Peruvian jail where they are being held on suspicion of drug trafficking.

The pair have told reporters they were forced to smuggle the £1.5 million-worth of cocaine that was found in their bags - or die - according to the Daily Mirror.

19-year-old Melissa Read, from Scotland, told the paper: "We had no option. We were not smuggling for money, we were smuggling for our lives.”

New video footage has emerged of the girls in custody in Lima.

It was taken on Monday night in a corridor as Michaella and her co-accused were walking alongside a police official in an undisclosed secure location.

Northern Irish woman Michaella, with her hair in a top-knot and wearing a black shawl, smiled and shook hands with a journalist.

Both herself and Melissa were eating as they chatted amiably with the journalist.

When the clip begins, both women appear calm and composed as they are lead down a stairs, eating what appear to be doughnuts as they walk, when a voice (off camera and in Spanish) calls out to the woman leading them, saying: “They can’t go down there (stay there).”

The woman escorting Michaella and Melissa replies: “Just for a while though?.” And the response is “no”.

They are due to appear in court on Wednesday.

An Irish-American bishop who visited the pair has said the women told him they were forced at gunpoint to put the packages containing cocaine into their suitcases.

''They told me that there were a group of Colombians actually took them at gunpoint and threatened them,"  said Archbishop of Lima Sean Walsh.

 

"They held them in [Ibiza] for a while and they took them to Morrocco.

"Now I don't know how that happened and I don't know how they got over to Peru, there was no direct flight from Morocco. They had to go through Spain probably.'

"If they have been coerced or threated as I think they are going to argue, then the fact that they physically had it in their possession may not mean that they were intentionally or willingly doing it if they were forced with threats on their life then they might not have gone through with this,’’ he added.

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