'Peru two' face six years in jail even if they plead guilty

Michaella McCollum Connolly, aka Kayla (L) at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport with countrywoman Melissa Reid after being arrested with over five kilograms of cocaine.

The two women currently being held in a notorious Peru prison face a minimum of six years and eight months in prison, even if they plead guilty, a prosecutor has said.

Prosecutor Juan Bautista Mendoza told the Associated Press a sentence reduction could be possible if the two women cooperated as witnesses against co-conspirators.

Michaella McCollum, 20, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, 20, from Glasgow are due in court next Tuesday, where they are expected to be interrogated by a judge.

The two women face drug trafficking charges and could be charged with up to 15 years in prison.

They were arrested on August 6th when officials at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport discovered 24 pounds of cocaine in their luggage as they tried to board to plane to Madrid.

Mendoza said if the two women plead guilty they could be sentenced to prison in less than a month. Otherwise, he said they trial could last six months.

McCollum’s attorney claims the two women were coerced with threats of violence by a gang of up to 15 armed men.

“I was simply repeating what she had told the police during the questioning,” attorney Peter Madden told the AP

He said he could not cofirm whether the Irish woman would plead guilty or go to trial.

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