Yesterday the case of Michaella and Melissa made progress, with the girls changing their plea from not guilty to guilty. They were told that this plea should reduce their drug-trafficking charge by an ‘eighth off the minimum eight-year prison sentence’ according to The Belfast Telegraph. On top of this, their lawyer Peter Madden is going to try to get the courts to allow the girls to complete their sentence in a UK prison by claiming Peru cannot afford the cost of housing 2 British prisoners in their already overcrowded prisons. How far though do we think this is a valid reaction by the courts to their crime?
Firstly the girls only pleaded guilty in the hope of having a reduced sentence. Which, although perfectly understandable, seems illegitimate. After claiming innocence for the duration of the trial up until now, they cannot be sincere in their guilt. It was claimed that the judge in the trial was going to determine the sincerity of their plea before deciding whether to accept their reduced sentence. If this is really the case then should he assume they do not truly believe they are guilty? Were they aware of what they were doing? If they were, then surely they are at least partially guilty? In my opinion they should therefore comply to Peruvian laws.
Having said this, I do believe they should be brought home. Although if found guilty they should serve the full sentence handed down by Peru, I don’t believe they should have to in a Peruvian prison. Alan Rae, a wrongly convicted Scottish man, served 2 years in a Peruvian prison and upon release claimed ‘I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy’. Is it not true that we have Human Rights Laws protected by both the EU and the UN? Do prisoners not even deserve basic Human Rights? Although understandably our governments cannot ‘rescue’ every single prisoner who lives in bad conditions throughout the world, we do have a chance to save 2 human beings from the ‘hell’ these prisons are described as.