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Drug smuggling women could receive reduced sentences

PROSECUTORS have announced they will strike a deal with the two British women who admitted trying to smuggle drugs into Peru in a move that could pave the way for the pair to receive shortened jail sentences.

Melissa Reid, from Lenzie, East Dunbartonshire, and Michaella McCollum, from Dungannon, Northern Ireland, had their hopes dashed in September when state prosecutors rejected their guilty pleas and wanted more information about the gang they claim were behind the crime.

But a new prosecutor has said he is happy with amplified statements they made in October.

The U-turn means Reid and McCollum, both 20, are expected to benefit from an early termination process whereby drugs mules are spared a trial and automatically receive a sixth off a minimum eight-year sentence.

The pair's sentencing hearing was cancelled because of a judicial strike.

Officials said they could offer no guarantee it will now take place before Christmas.

Chief prosecutor Gustavo Carvajal said: "We have submitted our report to the judge in charge.

"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."

The women were stopped with 11kg of cocaine hidden in food packets in their luggage while trying to board a flight to Spain in August. Their families had believed they were still on the holiday island of Ibiza when they were arrested.

The two women are hoping that if accepted within the early termination process, they will receive prison sentences of six years and eight months each.

The time they have already spent in custody will be taken into account.

It is expected they will apply for permission to serve part of their sentence in a UK jail once they have paid the Peruvian state compensation for their crimes.

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