By Madeline O’Connor
Michaela McCollum Connolly, 21, who was charged with smuggling cocaine in Peru, will be returned to a Northern Irish prison by the end of this year.
The Dungannon,, Co Tyrone native along with her Scottish accomplice Melissa Reid, 20, were held last August at Lima airport after 11.5kg of cocaine, with a street value of £1.4m, was discovered in their luggage.
Connolly pleaded guilty to drug smuggling in December and was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.
On Wednesday her solicitor, Belfast-based Kevin Winters, confirmed that Peruvian authorities had accepted a formal request to transfer Connolly to her native country. The process may take months due to complicated logistics and paperwork, so it could be coming up to Christmas before she returns.
It is thought Connolly is currently living in horrific conditions in an overcrowded jail in Peru, which Amnesty and her legal team have highlighted. It is believed she shares a cramped cell with 30 other inmates.
A statement from Kevin Winters Law Firm said: “Last week we received confirmation from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs that the Peruvian authorities had accepted Michaella’s prison transfer request and in turn passed this to the UK National Offenders’ Management Service (NOMS).
“It is our understanding that NOMS are due to liaise with the various prison authorities in order to facilitate the next stage of the transfer process.”
The pair had previously been held at Lima’s Virgen de Fatima prison, but were transferred to the infamous Ancon 2 prison.
Earlier this month an RTE documentary aired entitled Michaela, Peru and the Drugs Run – watch the trailer here: