Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

State contests 'drug mule' pleas

Prosecutors in Peru are contesting the pleas of British women Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid (right) to drug charges.

Peruvian prosecutors are objecting to the guilty pleas of two young British women caught trying to smuggle 24lb of cocaine to Spain.

Prosecutor Juan Rosas said that he will ask for a new hearing to give Michaella McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone and Melissa Reid of Glasgow the chance to offer a more complete confession.

The women pleaded guilty yesterday to drug trafficking charges. If it is accepted, they face six years and eight months in prison without possibility of parole.

Mr Rosas said today they need to explain why they initially claimed they were coerced by a gang of armed men.

He disputed a statement issued by the court where the women entered their plea that said they had provided information on their co-conspirators.

"The prosecution thinks the charges have not yet been completely embraced. They have simply accepted transporting drugs, but what has not yet been examined is their original version - that they were kidnapped or were transporting the drugs against their will," Mr Rosas said.

"As far as the prosecution is concerned, these citizens were never kidnapped, were never threatened or coerced.

"If they stick to that unbelievable story the prosecution is not going to allow them the benefit of a guilty plea."

AP

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