McCollum Connolly awaits details of Peru charges
Officers say initial investigation concluded and case is ready to move to judicial phase
Drug trafficking suspects Michaella McCollum Connolly and Mellissa Reid have been moved from the police station in the Peruvian capital Lima where they were held for the past 15 days to holding cells in a courthouse.
Officers said they have concluded their initial investigation and that the case is ready to move into the judicial phase.
The state attorney will present the charges to the judge at the courthouse in Callao . If refused bail, the women could face up to three years in jail before a trial.
Ms McCollum’s lawyer Peter Madden, who is in Lima, said the hearing would not take place in public. “It is a very short procedure, it will last maybe less than one hour, it will all be conducted privately, it will not be an open court, it will be more like an administrative process.”
Mr Madden saidthey will both be tried together. “I think the consensus of opinion is that they will each be charged with just over 5kg; that is what we are hoping.”
Ms McCollum Connolly, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Scot Ms Reid were arrested in Lima airport two weeks ago on suspicion of trying to smuggle cocaine worth €1.7 million from Peru. They deny the drug trafficking allegations and claim they were forced to carry the bags by armed men.
Ms McCollum Connolly’s brother Keith McCollum and Mr Madden visited her yesterday. Mr Madden said she was holding up well, although she was very worried about what was going to happen.
Mr Madden has dismissed media reports about his client after CCTV footage of her was released by prosecutors.
Speaking from inside the police station last night, Mr Madden said: “There was a [CCTV]video shown of Michaella walking near her hotel here in Lima, she was not carrying drugs as speculated, she was carrying her handbag.”
Mr Madden also rejected allegations she owed money to drug dealers. “That is not true, she was not involved in the drugs trade at all,” he said. “It is important to refute some of the things in the press that are not true. It is not helpful when false stories are put around, it doesn’t help their case at all.”
“[MICHAELLA] went to Ibiza at the end of June, where she had a number of jobs including waitressing, and promotional work. She was working hard when she was over there.”
He also said photographs which allegedly showed both women enjoying themselves in Peru did not reflect reality.
“Although the photographs show them smiling and having a good time, that was all posed,” he said.
“Remember, they were told that no harm would come to them if they followed instructions, and they were told to take photographs taken as tourists,” Mr Madden said. “She is isolated enough now, because there is only the two of them [being held in the cells] now, and I think they are just keeping each other’s spirits up.”
Once the initial stages of the case are over, Mr Madden said he intends to prepare the defence case in coordination with her lawyer in Lima.
“It will be complicated enough because there are a number of people in Ibiza that will have to be interviewed and I will have to check out a number of things. I will start as soon as I get back,” he said. “It will be very expensive for her family members fly over here on a regular basis. We have already set up a fund for members of public to help the family out in that regard in Ireland.”