Eanna Ó Cochláin is currently enduring an experience few of us would ever wish to ordeal.
In 2013, the 55 year old from Cork was in the Philippines settling his deceased father-in-law’s affairs, when he was arrested for cannabis possession at an airport.
Eanna was on his way home when he was stopped by airport security. In an interview with the RTE Radio One he described the scene.
“When I got to the airport, things seemed different. All the officials were staring at me.”
“I was searched three times unlike everyone else. I had Old Holborn rolled cigarettes – hand rolled tobacco – with me, the guards were not familiar with it.”
He was arrested and held for four hours. Eanna claims it was while in custody that his cigarettes were replaced with joints.
Both Eanna and his family are adamant he was set up by corrupt officials, in order to extract money from him. He believes they were aware of his financial situation.
In the RTE Radio One interview he described his ordeal following his arrest.
“About two days later I was told if you don’t pay up you will be found guilty. They were threatening to give me 25 years if I did not pay them around €7-10,000. I refused to pay their corruption money, because the problem is they can still lock me up even if I do pay.”
Eanna was put through trial in the regional courts, where he claims video evidence which proved his innocence was ignored.
Eanna was eventually convicted for possessing 0.3824g of cannabis, a third of a gram, and sentenced to a 12 year jail sentence.
Eanna also highlighted in his RTE interview that 65 percent of cases are resolved by payoffs, and that achieving actual justice in the Philippines judicial system seems impossible.
Eanna believes given his condition, and the squalor conditions of the prison, that his health will deteriorate or much worse.
“I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I’m 55 years old, there’s no way I’d survive prison. They’ve basically sentenced me to death for 0.38g of marijuana which they planted on me.”
Patrick Coughlan, a brother of Eanna, has been raising awareness for his brothers ordeal.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner he explains “My brother worked in 22 countries all over the world. He worked as a nurse in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. He is so experienced at passing in and out of airports. He’s not a fool,”
Following the sentencing Eanna was released on continuing bail pending an appeal. This was due to concerns which emerged over the chain of evidence as the case unfolded.
Eanna is currently in Manila awaiting judgement on his final appeal which his legal team launched last November.
Recently a 7 minute video highlighting Eanna’s ordeal was released which you can watch here
Obviously it is difficult to be certain of the true nature of circumstances, and we can only take Eanna at his word.
However, I think many will conclude that things don’t add up, and given the apparent corrupt nature of the Philippines judicial system, Eanna’s telling of events aren’t implausible.
Please also take the time to sign sign this petition
Perhaps its worth noting we jail more non-nationals for cannabis growing than we do Irish people. We often hear of Europeans trapped in foreign prisons, but rarely of the reverse.
You can learn more this in my post about the darker side to some Irish growhouses
My thoughts are with Eanna and his family, and I hope justice will be done.