UK & World News
Peru: 'Armed Men Forced Women To Carry Drugs'
The lawyer for the young Irish woman arrested in Peru for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine to Spain says she was threatened "by a gang of up to 14 men with guns".
Peter Madden said Michaela McCollum Connolly was "kidnapped", held at gunpoint and "forced by threat to obtain and carry drugs".
But, while the girls have continued to maintain they were forced to comply with the demands of a gang, police in Spain have expressed doubts over their story.
Talking about Ms Connolly, Mr Madden said: "She wasn't offered any money, she was threatened and held. She is now prepared and ready to give full details to the police."
He told reporters in the capital Lima that Melissa Reid, the Scottish woman detained with her, was similarly threatened by a gang of up to 14 armed men.
Mr Madden also said he had arrived at the police facility to find that McCollum Connolly was about to be questioned with no local lawyer available.
"I asked them to postpone the questioning and after a lot of argument about that, they did agree to postpone the questioning until a lawyer arrived," he added.
The two Britons, both aged 20, disappeared while working on the Spanish island of Ibiza.
They claim they were robbed of their passports and phones and followed as they took separate flights to Peru.
Police there said they were carrying £1.5m worth of cocaine when they were arrested last week as they tried to board a flight to Spain.
Ms McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Ms Reid, from Kirkintilloch in East Dunbartonshire, both insist they are innocent.
Ms Reid's father, William, had an emotional reunion with his daughter at the Dirando police station in Lima on Friday.
According to the Daily Mail, Ms Reid told him: "They made me do it."
She said she was introduced to a British man on Ibiza who forced her to meet a gang of Colombian gangsters. They put a gun to her head and ordered her to fly to Peru.
She told her father: "I wanted to tell the air hostesses or anyone in the airports, but the men said they would know if we had spoken to anyone, that they were watching all the time.
"It was a choice between doing what I was told and getting it over and done with and hopefully getting back to Spain or trying to escape and being killed."
However, First Sergeant Alberto Arian Barilla, the head of the Ibiza police unit responsible for fighting organised crime, said he did not believe the two young women had acted under duress.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday: "In my experience, I don't think these two girls were forced to do this because - particularly when you go to South America - you need to pass several controls."
Mr Reid had also told the Irish Independent he "of course" believes his daughter is innocent, adding she was in the "wrong place at the wrong time".
Police are waiting for a translator before officially questioning the two women, which is expected to happen in the next few days.
Mr Madden has warned that if the women are charged, the proceedings could be lengthy.
If charged, the two women would be transferred to the Santa Monica women's prison where foreigners are held.