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Irish priest in Lima: Michaella was 'conned' and prisons are 'violent'

Michaella McCollum Connolly’s solicitor has flown to Peru ahead of today’s preliminary court hearing.

Image: Anna Chapman via YouTube

THE SOLICITOR MICHAELLA McCollum Connolly’s family hired to represent her has flown to Peru ahead of today’s preliminary court hearing.

A spokesperson at Madden and Finucane Solicitors told TheJournal.ie that Peter Madden flew out yesterday afternoon. They said they were unsure how long he will spend in the South American country as it will depend on the case.

Twenty-year-old Michaella from Dungannon, Co Tyrone and 19-year-old Mellissa Reid from Glasgow were found 10 days ago with around 11kg of cocaine at Jorge Chavez airport as they tried to check into a flight bound for Madrid.

The pair have denied knowledge of the drugs and said they were forced by a gang with guns to carry the bags.

Earlier this week Madden said he was “confident that Michaela (sic) will be exonerated”.

Conned

Irish priest, Fr Maurice Foley based in Lima, told RTÉ’s Today with Myles Dungan that sending a lawyer is “a very good move” and believes a Peruvian court will listen to arguments from a legal person from Ireland.

Fr Foley then went on to outline the drab conditions in Peruvian prisons that Mellissa and Michaella could soon face.

Very often prisoners have to sleep on the floor against the cold… Food is bad and hygiene is bad too.

There’s no such thing as a cell. There is a big room with around 50 or 60 prisoners. They are not locked up really. The can move around and talk to each other.

Those who have beds can lease them out.

… They are in for a bad time.

He also spoke about violence, and said although it’s bad in the female prisons, it’s worse in male prisons as “they make gangs”.

Fr Foley said he is sure the women were “conned” and said the average drug smuggler is given between seven and 20 years.

“If their case was well pleaded they could be out in two and a half years,” he added.

Read: “I don’t really want to talk to any journalist at any stage” – Michaella McCollum Connolly>

More: Michaella says she’s innocent, optimistic about court and misses home>

Also: Irish woman missing in Ibiza found and arrested in Peru over drugs find>

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Amy Croffey

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