5 million cocaine swoop say they were threatened at gunpoint
TWO women held over a suspected 1.5 million drug trafficking bid in Peru will say they were forced into the act at gunpoint by Colombian gangsters, it was claimed tonight.
A churchman who visited the pair in a police holding centre in Lima claimed the two women one a Scot and the second from Northern Ireland had no choice but to follow orders.
Sean Walsh, an Irish American archbishop with the Eastern Catholic Church, said: “They told me that there were a group of Colombians that actually took them at gunpoint and threatened them.”
The archbishop said Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, and Melissa Reid, 19, were held for a while by the gang before being taken to Morocco and back again to Peru.
“I don’t know how that happened, and I don’t know how they got over to Peru,” he said.
“There’s no direct flight from Morocco, they go through Spain probably, but if they threatened tiffany co them in some way that to me seems like a credible defence.”
The women are due to appear in court tomorrow accused of attempting to smuggle the cocaine haul out of South America.
The archbishop, who has been working with prisoners in Peru for several years, said he met with the two women for half an hour in the police offices of the holding centre.
“If they have been coerced or threatened as I think they are going to argue, then the fact that they physically had it in their possession may not mean that they were intentionally or wilfully doing it,” he said.
“If they were forced with threats on their life or something then they might not have gone through with this.”
The cleri tiffany co c said he believed the women would plead innocent on the basis of coercion.
The archbishop said he did not see the cells the women were staying in but believed they were being treated well, and said one of their chief concerns was for their families.
In a further developement, Ms McCollum Connolly’s lawyer said her family are confident she will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
“Michaella’s family are obviously shocked and distressed by the recent events but are confident that Michaella will be exonerated,” said solicitor Peter Madden.
The family are making arrangements to travel to Peru and have contacted support groups in Lima to help her in the meantime. They are also arranging legal representation.
Mr Madden added: “I spoke to Michaella last night and she tiffany co < tiffany co /strong>emphasised that she denied that she was guilty of any offence. She is well. She is not on hunger strike.
“She is finding it difficult to cope with the current situation, so far from home, but is optimistic.”