Belfast Telegraph

Father's plea over Peru drugs case

The father of one of two women arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth £1.5 million out of Peru has called on British and Spanish police to investigate the case.

Melissa Reid, 20, from Glasgow, and Michaella McCollum, also 20, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone , were stopped with 24lb (11kg) of cocaine hidden in food packets in their luggage while trying to board a flight to Spain last month.

The pair claim they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang who threatened them and their family members.

They have reportedly told the Peruvian authorities they were working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to travel to Majorca.

Reid's father, William, told ITV's Daybreak: " The Peru element of the story I can follow and understand.

"It's the Ibiza end that I would like more clarification on. I'm still not entirely sure how she left Ibiza to go to wherever it was - Madrid or Majorca and then on - so I would like more help from the Spanish authorities and in fact the British police."

Both women are being held in a classification unit at the notorious Virgen de Fatima jail in Lima, which houses some of the country's most dangerous criminals.

But Mr Reid, who visited the pair last week, said they were "calm" and doing "as well as can be expected in their current predicament".

He went on: " The current prison conditions are OK and not as bad as we were led to believe prior to going over to Peru, so that was a worthwhile visit for that reason alone, to get some comfort that t hey have a bed and some space.

"They're not eight to a cell et cetera or sleeping in corridors (which) we were told was possible.

"But if they're moved to another prison that could change."

Mr Reid reiterated his belief that the women should plead guilty so the case is dealt with sooner.

"That is based on having been over in Peru and understanding more about their legal system," he said.

"They appear to operate on the basis that you're guilty unless you can prove your innocence."

He added: "Pleading guilty means that your case at least would come to court and you'd be given a sentence potentially within six months. If you continue down the not guilty route it can take two years to three years before your case even comes to court."

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