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Prosecutor: Plea by UK ‘drug mules’ unacceptable

September 25, 2013

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peruvian prosecutors said Wednesday that they consider unacceptable the guilty pleas of two young British women caught trying to smuggle 24 pounds of cocaine to Spain in their luggage.

Prosecutor Juan Rosas told The Associated Press that he will ask for a new hearing to give Irish-born Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid of Scotland the chance to offer a more complete confession.

The women pleaded guilty Tuesday to drug trafficking charges. If the plea is accepted, they face six years and eight months in prison without possibility of parole. Otherwise, they would go to trial and face a minimum of eight years if convicted.

Rosas said Wednesday that the women, both 20, need to explain why they initially claimed they were coerced by a gang of armed men into trying to spirit the drugs out of Peru’s main international airport Aug. 6 hidden in mayonnaise packets. “The prosecution thinks the charges have not yet been completely embraced. They have simply accepted transporting drugs, but what has not yet been examined is their original version — that they were kidnapped or were transporting the drugs against their will,” Rosas said in an interview.

“As far as the prosecution is concerned, these citizens were never kidnapped, were never threatened or coerced,” he said. “If they stick to that unbelievable story the prosecution is not going to allow them the benefit of a guilty plea.”

He disputed a statement issued Tuesday by the court where the women entered their plea that said they had provided information on their co-conspirators.

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