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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 4 March 2021

Irishman held for two years in Gran Canaria without charge

Kenneth Coalter was arrested after two people whose boat he had repaired were arrested for drug trafficking.

I just got out of prison after one year, 11 months and four days and I’m not charged with anything.

AN IRISHMAN WHO has been held on remand in a Spanish prison for two years says that he has been trapped in the Canary Islands.

Kenneth Coalter today told RTÉ’s Liveline that two people he knows had been arrested on the island of Gran Canaria and he was accused of being a member of their gang.

Coalter says that he had repaired the men’s boat engine, but has done nothing wrong.

“They used to call me on the phone and [the police] picked up my number. But nothing to do with what they were doing, it was all mechanical work.”

shutterstock_214244779 Las Palmas Source: Shutterstock/Mihai-Bogdan Lazar

One of the men was arrested with 500 kilos of cocaine in July 2013, prompting police in Las Palmas to arrest those they suspected were involved.

Coalter says that he was arrested on July 23 2013, but didn’t know what for until August 4, when the man was put in the same cell as him.

Coalter told Joe Duffy that he has not been charged, but is officially “under suspicion” and has had his passport confiscated.

Under Spanish law, suspects can be held for four years before charge.

Source: RTÉ Radio 1/SoundCloud

Not very pleasant

Coalter told the radio host that his two years in prison had been tough.

“It’s not a very pleasant place. I wouldn’t advise anyone take a holiday there.

You have to keep your act together mentally.

“I had no contact number for the lawyer they supplied for me. I managed to get a lawyer in the September.”

He said that his cellmates varied from violent thieves to a Ukrainian man he says is innocent.

Asked for his lowest moment he said:

The lawyer came in on a Saturday morning and told me I was being released on a Monday and to call him on a Tuesday. I was still there on the Tuesday and called him and he was in Madrid.

His lawyer is now attempting to regain his passport, but even then he will not be allowed fly home.

The Northern Irishman, who carries an Irish passport, says that he has received no help from authorities, bar a visit from a local consulate.

Upon his release, Coalter says his boat and belongings had been seized, with a local police officer owning the boat.

He has since regained ownership of the boat, but lost the house he had on a rent-to-buy scheme.

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