Peru Two 'In Great Form, Drinking Coffee Outdoors'

Article excerpt

Byline: Gerard Couzens

A PRIEST who visited drug mules Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid in prison has told how he found the pair sitting drinking coffee at an outdoor table with a parasol, and said they get to chat on the phone to friends and loved ones at home.

Fr Maurice Foley said the pair are in 'great form' and 'brilliant health' and are being held on a modern, well-equipped prison.

Lima-based Irish priest Fr Foley told RTE Radio 1: 'They are brilliant.

Very, very well.

'They weren't in a cell. They were out in a wide open space, sitting at a table with a parasol. They were talking and drinking coffee.' 'They had telephone communication and they could use it for calling home. I thought they were in great form actually,' he added.

McCollum, from Dungannon, Co.

Tyrone, and Reid, from Lenzie near Edinburgh, still insist they were coerced into smuggling drugs by armed Colombian mafia who kidnapped them in Ibiza where they were doing summer jobs. The two women have been told they can leave prison in as little as two months if they agree to become secret witness collaborators and assist authorities to track down and jail the gang that officials still believe they are shielding.

The revelation came days before a crucial court hearing at which McCollum and Reid, both 20, will be asked for more information about their trip to Peru in August to pick up [euro]1.7million of cocaine destined for Europe. They were at court last night but it was unclear what that hearing's purpose was.

The women pleaded guilty to drug smuggling last week, after weeks protesting their innocence, in the hope of being sentenced to less than seven years in prison tomorrow.

But their strategy appeared to fail when prosecutors got the sentencing hearing cancelled. Peruvian state prosecutors are demanding more information from them before they agree to let them benefit from an early release process whereby drug mules automatically receive a sixth off the minimum eight-year sentence for drug trafficking. …