Peru drug smugglers: Prosecutor to ask for a new hearing to give Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid a chance to offer more complete confession


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The Independent US

Guilty pleas entered by two women caught attempting to smuggle cocaine out of Peru will be contested by prosecutors who claim the pair have stuck to an “unbelievable story”.

Michaella McCollum, from Dungannon, County Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, from Lenzie, near Glasgow, admitted on Tuesday to smuggling drugs.

But tonight, the Peruvian prosecutor Juan Rosas said he would ask for a new hearing to give the women a chance to offer a more complete confession.

Mr Rosas said he would require the women to explain why they had initially claimed to have been coerced by a gang of armed men into transporting the drugs, thought to be worth up to £1.5million. He also disputed a court statement that said the two of them had provided information about 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.

He added: “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.”

The two 20-year-olds were stopped at Lima airport in August carrying the cocaine hidden inside food packets. They reportedly told Peruvian authorities that they had been working in Ibiza before being kidnapped at gunpoint.

But at a closed hearing, they admitted the offences in what was seen as an attempt to secure shorter sentences, potentially to be served in UK jails.

They are due to be sentenced on 1 October.