Peru drugs case: Prosecutors want another hearing

The BBC's Wyre Davis looks at the plight of the scores of people caught trying to smuggle drugs out of Peru

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Prosecutors in Peru are objecting to the guilty pleas by two UK women caught trying to smuggle cocaine out of Peru.

Michaella McCollum, of Dungannon, County Tyrone, and Melissa Reid, of Lenzie, near Glasgow, admitted on Tuesday to smuggling drugs.

Prosecutor Juan Rosas told the AFP news agency they needed to provide more information to get reduced sentences.

He said he would ask for another hearing to allow them to make a more complete confession.

The women, who face up to 15 years in prison, hope their admission of guilt will bring their sentences down to six years and eight months.

But Mr Rosas said the two women needed to explain why they initially claimed they were coerced by a gang of armed men.

He described their initial version of events as "unbelievable" and added that it had "not yet been examined".

'Kidnapped at gunpoint'

A spokesman for the prosecutors' office in Callao, where Tuesday's plea hearing took place, said: "The two drug mules' guilty pleas have not been fully accepted, as far as the prosecutor is concerned, until they give more details.

"They will be asked to give another statement before the judge explaining where the drugs came from, who supplied them and why they said they had been forced to carry them by an armed gang."

The spokesman said a date was still to be set for a new hearing.

McCollum and Reid, both 20, were stopped at Lima airport in August on their way to Spain carrying cocaine, said to be worth £1.5m, hidden inside food packets.

The women had reportedly told the Peruvian authorities they were working in Ibiza and did not meet before they were both kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to travel to Majorca.

They claimed they were then sent to Peru and forced to carry the drugs in their luggage.

But on Tuesday, at a closed hearing in Lima, they admitted the offences, and were told they would be sentenced on 1 October.

By pleading guilty they sought to reduce the minimum sentence of eight years by a sixth, down to six years and eight months without the possibility of parole.

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