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Lawyer to fly to Peru drug suspects
A solicitor representing one of the two women held on suspicion of drug-smuggling in Peru has said it could be a long time before she is released.
Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, intends to plead not guilty if charged, lawyer Peter Madden said.
He is due to fly out for a preliminary court hearing in Lima.
His model client has been accused with Scot Melissa Reid, 19, of trying to leave the country with £1.5 million of cocaine in their luggage. They were detained while trying to board a flight from the Peruvian capital to Spain last week.
Mr Madden said: "It could be a long time. It is a question of considering what the state prosecutor is proposing to do."
He will discuss with local lawyers whether bail would be granted if she is charged. The experienced solicitor has already spoken to the woman and said she was doing as well as could be expected.
"If she is charged, there will be a trial so it could take a while," he said outside George Best Belfast City Airport.
The women claim they are victims of a violent gang who coerced them into carrying the drugs, and say they have resigned themselves to the likelihood that they face a lengthy prison term. Police are waiting for a translator before officially questioning them, which is expected to happen in the next few days.
Ms Reid and Ms McCollum Connolly have claimed they were given the 24lb of cocaine outside their hotel, the Hotel Colonial San Agustin in the capital Lima, the day before they were due to fly back to Spain.
The pair, who deny drug trafficking, claim they were ordered at gunpoint by Colombian gangsters to smuggle the drugs out of Lima. The two women had been working on the Spanish island of Ibiza, where they say they were snared by a drug cartel, robbed of their passports and phones and followed as they travelled on separate flights from Spain to Peru.