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Accused smugglers "Peru 2" have hearings suspended due to strike

By Rachel Chase

Court workers’ strike means that Melissa Reid and Michaella McCollum will have to wait to hear their sentences.

Accused smugglers "Peru 2" have hearings suspended due to strike

(Photo: El Comercio)

Even though a sentencing hearing in time for a Christmastime transfer to at UK jail was a long shot, the so-called “Peru 2” were disappointed to learn that proceedings in their case would be postponed due to a court workers’ strike.

Melissa Reed and Michaela McCollum were caught in August at Lima’s Jorge Chavez Airport apparently attempting to smuggle 11 kilograms of cocaine to Spain. They were arrested on the spot and have been in police custody ever since.

According to Peru21, the women’s sentence had been scheduled to be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 10, but the court workers’ strike has led to an indefinite suspension of hearings.

However, there is one bright spot for the accused smugglers: prosecutors have announced that they are prepared to make a deal that would shorten the women’s sentences. The Irish Independent reports that the two women will be able to take advantage of a clause that reduces drug mules’ sentences by one sixth in exchange for a guilty plea and full acceptance of guilt.

In October, the pair faced a major setback when their guilty pleas were rejected by the Peruvian prosecutors, who said that their guilty plea was insufficient and that they needed to provide more information about the crime. The two women have claimed that they were forced to transport the drugs by gang members who threatened them and their families.

The Irish Independent quotes lead prosecutor Gustavo Carvajal as saying “We have submitted our report to the judge in charge of the case and state in that report we are happy for Melissa and Michaella to benefit from the early termination process […] The sentence the women receive is a decision for the judge. The minimum sentence for drugs trafficking is eight years and the maximum 15. There is provision under Peruvian law for a reduced sentence but it is by no means a foregone conclusion in this case. It will all depend on the outcome of the sentencing hearing.”

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