Irish woman on Peru drug charges due in court today
Family planning to travel to Lima
Michaella McCollum Connolly (20) and Scottish national Melissa Reid (19) who were arrested last Tuesday while trying to board a flight from the Peruvian capital, Lima. Photograph: Reuters
An Irish woman and a British national being held by Peruvian police on suspicion of trafficking more than 11.5kg of cocaine are due to appear in court today.
Photography student Michaella McCollum Connolly (20) and Scottish national Melissa Reid (19) were arrested last Tuesday while trying to board a flight from the Peruvian capital, Lima, to Palma Mallorca via Madrid.
Ms McCollum Connolly’s family said they were making arrangements to travel to Peru. In a statement from their solicitor, Peter Madden, the family said they fully supported her and have contacted help groups in Lima to ensure her needs are being met.
“Michaella has been questioned by the police and has denied involvement in any criminal offence,” Mr Madden said. “I am arranging legal representation for her in Lima.
“Michaella’s family are obviously shocked and distressed by the recent events but are confident that [she] will be exonerated,” he added.
Mr Madden said he spoke to Michaella last night and confirmed she was not on hunger strike.
“She is finding it difficult to cope with the current situation, so far from home, but is optimistic,” he said. “The family want privacy at this time and hopefully this will be respected.”
Seán Walsh, an Irish-American bishop in Lima, visited the two women at a prison in central Lima. He said they claimed “there were a group of Colombians that actually took them at gunpoint and threatened them”.
“They held them . . . for a while and took them down to Morocco and back,” he said in an interview on RTÉ’s Liveline. “Now, I don’t know how that happened and I don’t know how they got over to Peru, there’s no direct flight from Morocco.
“If they threatened them in some way then that to me seems like a credible defence,” he said. “It seems that that is the case, that they are arguing that.” The cleric added that he believed the women would plead innocent on the basis of coercion. Yesterday video footage of cocaine concealed inside food packaging, which was reportedly inside the women’s luggage, was released.