Michaella McCollum, the 21-year-old who was arrested in 2013 on charges of attempting to smuggle $2.3 million worth of cocaine into Peru, has been approved to serve the remainder of her jail term in Northern Ireland.
Her request to be repatriated has been approved by Northern Ireland’s justice minister, the Belfast Telegraph reports, and the Northern Ireland Prison Service confirmed that all of the required paperwork has been sent to the Peruvian authorities.
McCollum’s lawyers have described grim conditions at Ancon 2, the Peruvian prison where she and Melissa Reid, the Scottish woman charged alongside her, have been held. McCollum has reportedly been sharing a cell with 30 other inmates all sharing a hole in the ground as toilet facilities.
The director general of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Sue McAllister, confirmed to McCollum’s lawyers that “the Peruvian authorities have all of the documentation they require to enable them to make a decision on your client's application for repatriation.
"This paperwork includes confirmation that NIPS is prepared to accept her as a transferred prisoner.
"However, the final decision on the application is a matter for the Peruvian ministry of justice and human rights."
After being transported to Belfast under heavy security, McCollum would likely serve her time in Ash House Women's Prison at Hydebank Wood in south Belfast.
Since their arrest in August 2013, McCollum and Reid have maintained that they were forced into smuggling the cocaine by Peruvian drug lords who kidnapped them on the island of Ibiza.
They initially faced a sentence of eight to 15 years but received six years and eight months after striking a plea bargain.