UK & World News
Peru Drugs Pair's Guilty Pleas Rejected
Guilty pleas by two women arrested trying to smuggle 11kg (24lbs) of cocaine out of Peru will not be accepted, the prosecution has said.
Michaella McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, from Glasgow, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges in front of a judge on Tuesday.
But anti-narcotics prosecutor Juan Rosas said on Wednesday that as the women only claimed partial guilt for their actions, the pleas would not be accepted by the prosecution.
Mr Rosas said that in order for proceedings to be concluded quickly both women must accept full responsibility for the charges against them.
"A new statement is required by the women and they will have to admit not only that they came here to traffic drugs but also that they did not tell the truth with respect to them being kidnapped, they have to make a full admission of responsibility for all of the charges brought by the prosecution," he said.
The prosecution maintains that McCollum and Reid made up a story about being kidnapped and threatened into attempt to smuggle the drugs, worth £1.5m, out of Peru on August 6.
Mr Rosas added: "If they continue to maintain this incredible version of events then the prosecution is not going to accept them taking advantage of a quick conclusion of proceedings."
The women entered the plea at a closed hearing in Callao, the city adjacent to Lima where the capital's airport is located.
Judge Pedro Miguel Puente set a court hearing for October 1 at which the two women could be sentenced, a court spokesman said.
He said that McCollum and Reid would face a minimum of six years and eight months in prison following the guilty plea. It had earlier been suggested that this reduced sentence, the charges carry a maximum sentence of 15 years, could be served in the UK.
The spokesman also said the women offered details on their co-conspirators during the hearing.
When they were arrested, McCollum was 20 and Reid was 19 and they had been living on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza.
Reid's parents insisted last week they still believed their daughter had been forced to carry the drugs, but a guilty plea was the best course of action to get her back to the UK.
According to Peru's national prisons institute, 90% of the 1,648 foreigners in the country's prisons are either sentenced or awaiting trial for drug trafficking.