The two women charged with drug trafficking in Peru are in “great form” in a modern well-equipped prison, according to an Irish priest.
Father Maurice Foley visited Michaella McCollum Connolly from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, from Glasgow in jail last Saturday where he found the pair under a parasol, drinking coffee and making phone calls.
The two women were moved to the modern jail after spending time in the infamous Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima.
"(They are) brilliant. Very, very well," the Irish priest, who is based in Lima, told the Belfast Telegraph.
On August 6th the pair were stopped in Lima airport with 11kg of cocaine hidden in food packets in their luggage while trying to board a flight to Spain. They both claim to have been kidnapped and forced into carrying the drugs by gangsters.
They are expected to be sentenced for trying to smuggle $2.5 million of the class A drug out of Peru, in the coming weeks.
"They weren't in a cell. They were out in a wide open space sitting at a table with a parasol, they were talking and drinking coffee.
"As well as that they had telephone communication and they could use it for calling home. I thought they were in great form actually."
According to Fr Foley, the women can sit outside all day and make as many phone calls as they wish, as long as they have the money to pay for it.
Last week the two women, both 20, pleaded guilty to drug smuggling when they appeared before a judge.
They had hoped their admissions would help them secure a shorter sentence, but prosecutors have demanded more evidence before they accept their guilty pleas.
Fr Foley said prosecutors want the women to hand over names and addresses of the gang who they claim coerced them into the trafficking.
“They don't have that. All they have is the name of a cockney Englishman by the name of Jake or Joe and that's no good," he said.
"I think they just don't have that information themselves. My firm belief is that they were conned, they were backed into a compromising situation and their handlers worked on that and got them to go to customs with drugs.
"What very likely happened was that people coming behind them in the queue in the airport were the ones who walked through with the drugs."
Food & Drink
Healthy Viscount cookie recipe for Chocolate Mint Day