Michaella McCollum solicitor says Peru stories bizarre

Video footage shows Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid questioned in Peru on suspicion of drug trafficking

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The solicitor for one of the two UK women arrested in Peru over alleged drugs smuggling has criticised some of the press coverage of the case.

Michaella McCollum, from Dungannon, and Melissa Reid, from Lenzie near Glasgow, who are both 20, are accused of trying to smuggle some 11kg (24lb) of cocaine.

Ms McCollum's solicitor, Peter Madden, visited her in the police holding cell where she has spent the past 14 days.

He said some recent press coverage of the case had been "bizarre".

"I've seen some very strange press reports over the weekend about this case," Mr Madden said.

"The ones that I saw I put to Michaella and she totally denies them. Some of them, as I say, are just not true and some of them are just really bizarre."

Some newspapers at the weekend reported on the drugs scene in Ibiza and questioned the two women's stories.

Mr Madden was due to meet with police to discuss the case after visiting Ms McCollum.

Two weeks after their initial arrest, the two women are still waiting to be formally charged with a crime.

The Peruvian anti-drug police have concluded their investigation into the case, which should now be with the public prosecutor's office.

The contents of that report will form the basis of any charges against the pair, which they are expected to hear in a courtroom on Tuesday.

Ms McCollum and Ms Reid have maintained from the start that they were forced by an armed gang to carry the cocaine they were arrested with in their luggage at Lima Airport.

They both say they were forcibly recruited as drug mules by the gang while working in bars in the Spanish island of Ibiza and travelled to Peru under duress.

It is not yet clear if they still intend to enter a not guilty plea in court on Tuesday.

Video evidence

Peru's anti-drug police's lead investigator, Tito Perez, told the BBC his unit had been checking into the women's version of events by travelling to the hotels they had stayed in.

Officers had also gathered video evidence from the city of Cuzco where they claimed the drug gang had taken them.

The report is due to form the basis of the pre-trial hearing which will determine what the two young women will be charged with.

If refused bail, they could face up to three years in jail before trial.

Legal experts in Peru suggest the normal charge in such a case would be for drug smuggling, which carries an average sentence of about eight to nine years in prison.

If they are accused of being members of a criminal organisation, they could face harsher sentences.

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