Michelle McCollum Connolly and her co-accused companion Melissa Reid could benefit from a proposed new law currently before the Peruvian congress, that could have positive implications for the pair if they are convicted of drug trafficking.
McCollum Connolly, 20, from Dungannon, County Tyrone and her co-accused Melissa Reid, 20, from Glasgow are currently awaiting trial for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine worth $2.5 million out of the country. Currently they are being held in the notorious Virgen de Fatima Women’s prison in the Peruvian capital.
McCollum Connolly and Reid have insisted they were threatened by armed men into carrying food packages - which were later found to contain cocaine - in their luggage.
According to the Irish Times the proposed legislation aims to reduce the sentence served by foreign prisoners for drug trafficking by a third.
Boris Potozen, chief of the office of legal counsel for the Council of Ministers told the Times that 'Peru will exercise its legal right to impose restrictions on and expel foreigners convicted of crimes linked to drug trafficking.'
Jails in Peru are reportedly overcrowded and the recent dramatic rise in the number of foreign inmates has put even more strain on the system. The proposed legislation aims to reduce prison overcrowding.
If passed by congress president Ollanta Humala has fifteen days to sign the bill into law, the Times reports.
To avail of the shorter jail time McCollum Connolly and Reid would reportedly have to plead guilty to possessions of the of cocaine found in their luggage at Jorge Chavez International Airport on the 7 of August.
The time they spend awaiting trial - which could be months or even years - counts towards their sentence.
Peter Madden, the lawyer acting for Ms McCollum Connolly has said she will spend at least two years in jail if she accepts responsibility for the crime now.
Madden said the alternative for her was to decide to go to trial, in which case she would be at least two years awaiting trial and could face a sentence of between nine and 15 years.
Last Wednesday, during a public court appearance, the two women were formally charged with the promotion of drug trafficking and were refused bail.