independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Peru Two sentenced to six years eight months

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid's dream of spending Christmas back home finally ended today when they were sentenced to six years and eight months in a Peruvian court.

Each of the women a received six years, eight month jail sentence. Both women opted to take advantage of the "early termination” rule.

“Early termination” means there is no trial once the prosecution and defense reach an agreement. The judge then emitted a reduced sentence based on the agreement reached by both parties. 

This means that the six years eight month sentence is the best possible result for the women.

They emerged from the back of a prison van shortly 11am and were escorted into the courtroom inside Sarita Colonia jail in the port of Callao.

Neither women made comments or looked at the waiting international press.

Both Ms Reid and Ms McCollum, who were arrested at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International airport on August 7 after Peruvian police found over 11kg of cocaine in their luggage, pleaded guilty in September to drug trafficking.

However, a day after the hearing, Peruvian state prosecutor Juan Rosas surprisingly rejected the women’s guilty plea saying that their claim that they were kidnapped and coerced into carrying the drugs was untrue.

He felt that Melissa Reid and Michaela McCollum did not fully acknowledge their guilt in court and believed they were not telling the entire truth.

His rejection of the 20 year olds' guilty plea meant that Ms McCollum and Ms Reid had to appear in court a week later to clarify their claims that they had been forcibly duped into carrying the drugs.

Irish-born Michaella McCollum, handcuffed, arrives for a court hearing, in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. McCollum along with Melissa Reid, of Britain, were detained on Aug. 6 at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain and were formally charged for drug trafficking. (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
Irish-born Michaella McCollum, handcuffed, arrives for a court hearing, in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013. McCollum along with Melissa Reid, of Britain, were detained on Aug. 6 at Lima's airport for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine on a flight to Spain and were formally charged for drug trafficking. (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)

According to Article 296 of the Peruvian Penal Code, drug smuggling carries a sentence of eight to 15 years in prison. “Early termination” allows for the number of years to be reduced, which in Ms McCollum and Ms Reid’s case, is their six year eight month jail sentence.

The pair were facing potential jail terms of 15 years after hopes of a plea deal faltered.

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