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Friday 29 August 2014

Michaella won't be separated from Melissa in jail

Claire Murphy in Lima

Published 22/08/2013 | 21:11

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Michaella McCollum Connolly (L) and Melissa Reid attend court at the Justice Court of Callao
Michaella McCollum Connolly (L) and Melissa Reid attend court at the Justice Court of Callao
Samantha McCollum and her sister, Michaella McCollum Connolly
Samantha McCollum and her sister, Michaella McCollum Connolly

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid will be incarcerated in Ancon 2 prison while they await a trial date.

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The pair were refused bail at an unprecedented public hearing in Lima earlier this week.

Wearing a leopard print cardigan, Michaella cast her eyes down as she was led out of The Palace of Justice in Callao with her travelling companion Melissa Reid.

They now face up to two years in the prison - also known as Fatima de Virgen in Ancon district, one hour north of the city centre.

Ancon 2 prison
Ancon 2 prison

The pair, both 20, claim to have been kidnapped and forced into carrying the drug by gangsters.

However, under Peruvian law there is no opportunity for parole and so they must wait here until their trial.

Earlier today, the district prosecutor in Lima accused Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid of trying to ‘dupe’ the court with an ‘incoherent’ story.

British citizen Melissa Reid (front C) and Belfast resident Michaella McCollum Connolly
Melissa Reid (front C) and Belfast resident Michaella McCollum Connolly

The duo were denied bail in a court in Lima yesterday, where they have been detained on drug smuggling charges.

During the hearing last night the court was told that the pair’s story claiming they were kidnapped was ‘void’.

The court heard that when police seized Melissa Reid’s camera they found images of the girls posing with police officers during their time in the country.

The judge also asked both girls why they hadn’t attempted to seek help at the airport in Lima prior to their arrest – to which they responded that they had been threatened.

When the judge asked them who had been behind the threats, the girls responded through their interpreter that they did not know the answer.

The two 20-year-olds were refused bail and now face up to three years in prison as the await trial on the charges.

Meanwhile it has emerged that the girls gave a shopping list to Melissa’s father of items they wished to have purchased for them during their detention.

Among the items on the list were croissants, Nutella and granola bars, it was reported.

Both women were detained earlier this month after they were accused of attempting to smuggle €1.7m worth of cocaine – or close to 12kg of the drug - out of the country.

They were due to board a flight for Spain from Lima when their luggage caught the attention of sniffer dogs at the airport.

Michaella’s lawyer, well-known Belfast solicitor Peter Madden, has expressed concerns about the conditions the girls face during their detention.

“I have a number of concerns about the conditions, they are far below the minimum standards”, he said.

He also added that despite the fact they have so far been convicted of no crime, they are already serving a prison sentence.

“Innocent or guilty, they are serving a prison sentence. There is no bail here, and that is a concern,” he said.

He also said that the two women were concerned they would be separated while in custody.

 

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