Belfast Telegraph

Handcuffed Michaella McCollum Connolly taken to Peru court to face drugs charges

Police in Peru have this afternoon escorted suspected drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly out of the holding facility where she has spent the past two weeks.

The 20-year-old model from Dungannon was moved from the National Police anti-drug headquarters and is expected to be formally charged – along with her travel companion Melissa Reid – with drug trafficking later today.

 

Wearing jeans, a t-shirt and black biker jacket, Michaella was escorted by a female police. Both Michaella and Melissa were in handcuffs as they were placed into a waiting car and taken away.

 

The young Irishwoman has spent the past 15 days in an anti-drugs unit in Lima.

 

Her lawyer Peter Madden had earlier said that Michaella and co-accused Melissa Reid, both 20, will today be moved out of police custody in judicial custody.

 

"The girls will be moved, probably to Callao where the court is and will probably be held there for a day or two," he said.

 

Mr Madden who will attend the hearing along with the two women's Peruvian lawyer said that they will both be tried together.

 

"It is a very short procedure, it will last maybe less than one hour, it will all be conducted privately, it will not be an open court, it will be more like an administrative process."

 

The women who were carrying over 11kg of cocaine in their luggage when arrested are likely to be tried together, meaning they will not face longer sentencing of 15 to 25 years.

 

"I think the consensus of opinion is that they will each be charged with just over 5kg; that is what we are hoping," Mr Madden said.

He has also refuted allegations in the press over the weekend that Michaella owed €4,000 to drug dealers

"That is not true, she was not involved in the drugs trade at all.

"It is important to refute some of the things in the press that are not true, it is not helpful when false stories are put around, it doesn't help their case at all," he added.

"She went to Ibiza at the end of June, where she had a number of jobs including waitressing, and promotional work. She was working hard when she was over there."

He also commented on the photographs which allegedly showing both women in Peru.

"Although the photographs show them smiling and having a good time, that was all posed.

"Remember, they were told that no harm would come to them if they followed instructions, and they were told to take photographs taken as tourists.

"There was a [CCTV] video shown of Michaella walking near her hotel here in Lima, she was not carrying drugs as speculated, she was carrying her handbag."

Once the initial stages of the case are over, Mr Madden intends to prepare Michaella's defense case in coordination with her lawyer in Lima.

"It will be complicated enough because there are a number of people in Ibiza that will have to be interviewed and I will have to check out a number of things. I will start as soon as I get back.

 "It will be very expensive for her family members fly over here on a regular basis. We have already set up a fund for members of public to help the family out in that regard in Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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