Peru drugs mule Michaella McCollum Connolly’s repatriation to a Northern Ireland jail has been given the go-ahead by the head of the prison service in Belfast.
All necessary paperwork has been sent to Peruvian authorities considering the application for transfer, a letter from the North's Prison Service disclosed.
Melissa Reid, from Scotland, and McCollum Connolly, from Co Tyrone, were imprisoned in 2013 for six years and eight months after admitting trying to smuggle cocaine worth €1.9m from Peru to Spain.
A solicitor has described the conditions of their detention as horrendous.
Sue McAllister, director general of the prison service, told McCollum’s legal team: “I can confirm that the Peruvian authorities have all of the documentation they require to enable them to make a decision on your client’s application for repatriation.
“This paperwork includes confirmation that NIPS is prepared to accept her as a transferred prisoner.
“However, the final decision on the application is a matter for the Peruvian ministry of justice and human rights.”
Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said: "With Peru's penal system suffering from massive overcrowding, poor access to medical care and endemic corruption, it will be a relief for Michaella McCollum, as well as her family, that she is now a step closer to returning home to complete her sentence."