Unless you’ve been living a hole for the last week, you can’t fail to have noticed the media coverage of the two British girls, Michaella McCollum and Melissa Reid, who are currently in a police holding cell in Peru awaiting charges for allegedly attemping to smuggle cocaine out of the country.
The girls claim that they were forced at gunpoint to fly to Peru to be drug mules which, if I’m honest, sounds a little far-fetched to me – I mean, surely, for example, at airport security (where it’s highly unlikely anybody could be pointing a gun at them), they could have raised the alarm or asked for help.
Further reporting yesterday suggested that they were flown first class to Peru, and photographs have now been published of them smiling and looking to all intents and purposes like two young women having a great holiday whilst they were there. Again, they say they were forced to have these photos taken. A taxi driver has also come forward and talked about driving them around Lima on a huge shopping spree, and said they spent thousands of dollars. (Again, how true any of this is, who knows?)
In all likelihood, apparently, they will be charged with drug smuggling later today, and the case will then go to trial, where a prison sentence of approximately 9 years is likely to be imposed.
The BBC News reported on Sunday from inside the prison in Peru where the women are likely to serve their sentences, which was quite modern, not overcrowded and very clean, and interviewed a couple of European women already in there for drug smuggling. They weren’t having the time of their lives, it would be safe to say.
Video footage was released last week of Michaella and Melissa eating cake, smiling and chatting to reporters from inside the police station where they are currently being held. They seemed remarkably lighthearted, given the circumstances.
At the very least, if not guilty of drug trafficking, these girls are guilty of gross bloody stupidity. And I struggle to have much sympathy with them.
But I feel absolutely devastated for their poor parents. Can you IMAGINE thinking your daughter is having a great summer working in a bar in Ibiza and then a reporter knocks on your door and tells you she’s being held in Peru on suspicion of trafficking cocaine, and looking at a potential 25 year prison sentence?
I mean, it would ruin your life, wouldn’t it? Totally. I can’t even begin to conceive of the horror, helplessness and terror these poor people are suffering, through no fault of their own.
And that’s why my thoughts and sympathies are mostly with those four parents, as the charges are prepared to be laid today, and not with their daughters.