Northern Ireland

Michaella McCollum's solicitor flies to Peru

Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid were arrested at Jorge Chavez airport in Lima

A solicitor for Michaella McCollum, the Tyrone woman suspected of drug-smuggling in Peru, is due to arrive in Lima later.

Peter Madden has left Belfast and is due to land in Peru soon.

Ms McCollum, 20, was arrested trying to fly to Madrid a week ago, along with Melissa Reid, 19, from Scotland.

It is alleged police found £1.5m worth of cocaine in their luggage. Both women deny any wrongdoing.

The two women had been due to appear in court on Wednesday, however, the case was delayed.

Before he left for Peru, Mr Madden said he had spoken to Ms McCollum on the phone.

"She said she did nothing wrong and is innocent," he said.

Image caption Solicitor Peter Madden will arrive in Peru on Friday

Asked about reports that his client had been forced at gunpoint to go to South America, he said it "chimed" with what she told him, but he had not spoken to her yet in detail.

Mr Madden said Ms McCollum sounded well on the phone but was in a "difficult position" for a 20-year-old woman so far away from home.

He said he hoped to obtain a local legal team in Lima to represent the Dungannon woman in court.

Mr Madden said his first task was to check on the conditions in which his client was being held, before working on getting her home.

In a statement earlier this week, the McCollum family said Michaella denied involvement in any criminal offence.

The two women were stopped on 6 August as they tried to pass through the Air Europa counter at Jorge Chavez airport in Lima. They face lengthy prison sentences if found guilty.

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