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Saturday 30 August 2014

Peru: Prosecutors accuse Michaella of trying to ‘dupe’ officers with kidnap story

Published 22/08/2013 | 10:40

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

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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.

Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid are escorted by police as they enter the Justice Court of Callao August 21, 2013. McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid have been charged in Peru with drug trafficking and could face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. McCollum Connolly, of Dungannon in Northern Ireland, and Reid, from near Glasgow in Scotland, were arrested at Lima airport two weeks ago after 11 kg (24 lb) of cocaine worth 1.5 million pounds ($2.3 million) was found in their luggage, according to authorities.  REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid are escorted by police as they enter the Justice Court of Callao August 21, 2013. McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid have been charged in Peru with drug trafficking and could face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. McCollum Connolly, of Dungannon in Northern Ireland, and Reid, from near Glasgow in Scotland, were arrested at Lima airport two weeks ago after 11 kg (24 lb) of cocaine worth 1.5 million pounds ($2.3 million) was found in their luggage, according to authorities. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid are escorted by police as they enter the Justice Court of Callao August 21, 2013. McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid have been charged in Peru with drug trafficking and could face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. McCollum Connolly, of Dungannon in Northern Ireland, and Reid, from near Glasgow in Scotland, were arrested at Lima airport two weeks ago after 11 kg (24 lb) of cocaine worth 1.5 million pounds ($2.3 million) was found in their luggage, according to authorities.  REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid are escorted by police as they enter the Justice Court of Callao August 21, 2013. McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid have been charged in Peru with drug trafficking and could face up to 18 years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said. McCollum Connolly, of Dungannon in Northern Ireland, and Reid, from near Glasgow in Scotland, were arrested at Lima airport two weeks ago after 11 kg (24 lb) of cocaine worth 1.5 million pounds ($2.3 million) was found in their luggage, according to authorities. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
Michaella McCollum Connolly
Michaella McCollum Connolly

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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