THE solicitor of the Dungannon girl accused of trying to smuggle drugs out of Peru has said she was kidnapped and forced to do it.
Peter Madden, a prominent human rights lawyer, flew to Lima on Friday and said Michaella McCollum has now told him the full details of her “ordeal”.
He said: “She was in fact kidnapped, held at gunpoint and forced by threat to obtain and carry drugs.
“She wasn’t offered any money. She was threatened and held. She is now prepared and ready to give full details to the police who are in a questioning process.”
Earlier Spanish police cast doubt on claims by two women from the UK arrested in Peru for cocaine smuggling that they were forced to carry the drugs by armed gang members.
Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum Connolly said they were forced at gunpoint to make the journey from the Spanish holiday island of Ibiza - where they had been working in bars - after being befriended by a man from London.
They said they were shadowed by gang members throughout the journey and warned that if they did not pick up the drugs in Peru and bring them back to Spain their families would be killed.
However the head of the Ibiza police unit responsible for countering organised crime, first sergeant Alberto Arian Barilla, said he did not believe they were acting under duress.
“In my experience I don’t think these two girls were forced to do this because - particularly when you go to South America - you need to pass several controls,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“The first thing you do is go to the passport control and say ‘Listen, this is what is happening to me’. The policeman will react so I don’t think they were forced.”
Ms Reid, from Scotland, and Ms McCollum Connolly from Dungannon, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland, were arrested last week as they attempted to leave the Peruvian capital, Lima, on a flight to Spain.
They are suspected by police of trying to leave the country with 11 kilos of cocaine in their luggage worth £1.5 million.
They may be held pre-charge for up to 30 days and could then spend up to three years in prison before a trial.