Peru judge remands British, Irish pair in custody

A Peruvian judge has ordered that two young women from Britain and Ireland be remanded in custody pending trial on drug trafficking charges.

Michaella McCollum Connolly, 20, and Melissa Reid, 19, were arrested two weeks ago at Lima's international airport with 11 kilograms of cocaine.

McCollum Connolly is Irish and Reid is British.

In ordering preventive detention for the two, Judge Dilo Huaman rejected defense arguments that they had been threatened with death if they refused to carry the drugs.

Connolly had previously been reported missing from her job on the Spanish holiday island of Ibiza in the Mediterranean, and well-wishers had launched a large-scale Internet campaign to find her.

After their arrest, the women told British reporters that they had been kidnapped by a drugs cartel, taken to Peru and forced to transport drugs.

But the claim was met with widespread skepticism and Peruvian authorities did not buy the story.

The pair was led into court Tuesday in handcuffs, as photographers and Reid's British parents, who flew out in recent days to support her, looked on.

There was no word on a trial date.

Both women looked scared as they walked into court. They wore jeans and T-shirts, and had undergone a medical examination prior to their court appearance.