Parents plan to visit drug suspects
The parents of two women arrested in Peru on suspicion of drug trafficking say they intend to travel to the South American country to see their daughters.
Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Northern Ireland, and Melissa Reid, 19, a Scot, claim they were ordered at gunpoint by Colombian gangsters to smuggle £1.5 million-worth of cocaine out of Lima.
The pair, who deny drug trafficking allegations, were arrested while trying to board a flight from the Peruvian capital to Spain last week.
They were expected to appear before city prosecutors for the first time today but reports suggest the hearing has been postponed until early next week.
The women claim they were forced to carry the bags and were unaware they contained narcotics.
Mr and Mrs Reid told the Daily Mail newspaper that they were preparing to fly out to Lima to see their daughter, who turns 20 on Friday. Ms McCollum Connolly's family are also making arrangements to travel to Peru, according to the paper.
In an interview with the Mail, William Reid, 53, said: "From what her friends and Melissa have been able to tell us, she was introduced to a group of men who she socialised with and this escalated to her being forced to carry out this journey.
"They came into her flat and told her to pack a bag. She didn't know where she was going. My daughter would 100% not have gone willingly. This is completely out of character. She was coerced into it."
Her mother Debra said: "She was planning on going to a special nightclub for her birthday. Her brother Liam is getting married in February and she was very excited about it. It will be heartbreaking for us if she's not there. We can't even think about her being in Peru for several years."
In an interview with the Daily Mirror from their police holding cell in Lima, the women claimed to have been coerced into carrying the drugs by members of a violent drug gang who put loaded guns to their heads.