Drug suspects interviewed by Peruvian police
Michaella McCollum Connolly’s lawyer again insists she was forced to smuggle cocaine
Anti-narcotics police stand guard outside the headquarters of the anti-drug unit of the National Police of Peru in Lima, where Michaella McCollum Connolly and Melissa Reid are being detained. Photograph: Mariana Bazo/Reuters
The women were questioned about events leading up to their arrest for drug trafficking eleven days ago.
Ms McCollum Connolly, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Ms Reid, who is Scottish, are accused of drug trafficking after over 11kg of cocaine was found hidden in their luggage as they checked in to an Aer Europa flight last week at Lima International airport.
Both women are being represented by local lawyers Fischman & Fischman since their defence must be acredited by the Peruvian government and the bar association of Peru.
Belfast lawyer Peter Madden, who is representing Ms McCollum, and official state interpreters have also been present in all the proceedings.
“We spent seven hours on Friday evening going through Michaella’s version of events,” Mr Madden told The Irish Times last night. “She was taken at gunpoint, she was tricked into going to an apartment, a gun was produced and put to her head.
“It was a very, very serious ordeal she describes. She forced to fly to Palma, Majorca after threats were made and a copy of her passport was produced as well as photos of her family which she thinks came from Facebook. ”
Mr Madden said Ms McCollum, who has been living in Ibiza, was told she had to follow instructions and was in fear right through the whole process. She had been out of touch with her family because she was told people were watching her and there would be serious consequences if she made any contact with her family.
“The bizzare aspect of this is that she was instructed to fly to Lima, meet Melissa and then go together to Cuzco posing as tourists so that when they came back to the airport they would be able to show that they were on a tourist trip,” he said. “The girls were given a camera and instructed to pose in photographs smiling, so that if they were stopped by authorities they could convince them they were tourists.”
The local police are in possession of the camera and photographs taken by the two women.
When they returned to Lima from Cuzco, the two women were instructed to carry luggage with food packages in it, he said. “At that stage, even though Michaella didn’t know what was in the packages, she had her suspicions.”
Mr Madden also confirmed that the plan was to return to Palma, Mallorca with the drugs. He also said that it seems to be a gang that operates in both Spain and Peru.