Solicitor for Michaella McCollum is expected to meet police in Lima to discuss case

Sunday 18 August 2013 22.42
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Michaella McCollum is protesting her innocence
Michaella McCollum is protesting her innocence
Melissa Reid (L) and Michaella McCollum (R) are being detained and have yet to be formally charged before a judge
Melissa Reid (L) and Michaella McCollum (R) are being detained and have yet to be formally charged before a judge
Solicitor Peter Madden said that he hoped the legal system in Peru would be fair
Solicitor Peter Madden said that he hoped the legal system in Peru would be fair

A lawyer for Michaella McCollum, who is accused of trying to smuggle 11kg of cocaine from Peru, is expected to meet police in Lima on Monday.

Human rights solicitor Peter Madden, who flew from Belfast to Lima last week to represent the 20-year-old, said he intended to discuss the case with Peruvian authorities.

A statement from Mr Madden's Belfast-based firm Madden and Finucane said he would not be making further comment until he had spoken with his client.

Ms McCollum from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, and co-accused Melissa Reid, 20, from Scotland, were arrested last week as they attempted to leave the Peruvian capital, Lima, on a flight to Spain.

Police say they were trying to leave the country with 11kg of cocaine in their luggage. They may be held without charge for up to 30 days. The women could then spend up to three years in prison before a trial.

Mr Madden, who has been involved in a number of high profile cases including providing legal representation for three Irish republicans arrested in 2001 in Colombia for allegedly training members of FARC, said on Saturday that he hoped the legal system in Peru would be fair.

"I think there is hope but it depends very much on the prosecuting authorities here as to whether or not they're going to do this in a fair way, because the process here seems to be that once you're charged there's no bail for these type of offences and she will have to go to trial," he said.

He also told reporters that Ms McCollum was protesting her innocence.

Mr Madden said the two were coerced at gunpoint to carry items in their luggage, which were later found to contain drugs.

He said his client Ms McCollum was taken to Peru under duress and threatened into becoming a drug mule.

It is understood Ms McCollum's brother Keith and sister Samantha have flown to Lima.

Ms Reid, who marked her 20th birthday on Friday, has been visited by her father William.

Both girls are being detained at a police holding centre and have yet to be formally charged before a judge.