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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C

Corkman facing 12 years in Philippines jail says drugs were planted on him in airport

Éanna Ó Cochláin and his family say they have received no support from Irish authorities.

A CORKMAN WHO is stranded in the Philippines is waiting for a knock on the door to bring him to jail for a crime he says he is innocent of.

Éanna Ó Cochláin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for smuggling 0.38 grams of cannabis through Laoag International Airport in July 2013.

The 56-year-old was searched by authorities three times when passing through the Philippines with his wife Jho, after settling the estate of her father who had recently passed away.

During the third search, two dry sticks of cannabis were found in his pocket in a box of Marlboros.

The psychiatric nurse, who lived in London with his wife and daughter, denies any knowledge of the drugs and says they were planted on him.

download Patrick Coughlan Patrick Coughlan

Three years ago the court case took place and he was sentenced to 12 years. He served a week in prison before appealing the case.

Éanna is now currently waiting to be arrested after losing his second appeal of the sentence.

Private investigator Eamonn Gavin is representing Ó Cochláin, he told that the Philippines has a known problem of “tanim bala”, a term used to describe when bullets or drugs are planting on unsuspecting travelers.

This practice is currently under attack by the new President of the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, who is pursuing a massive crackdown on drugs and drug pushers – even ordering the killings of people on the streets.

He recently stated that he’d be ”happy to slaughter” millions of drug addicts, comparing his country’s drug war to the Holocaust.

Discussing what this could mean for Ó Cochláin, Gavin said, ”I don’t think he’s nervous that anything will happen him.

You can be ultra careful but still find a bullet in your luggage, or as Éanna found, in his pocket.

‘Irish politicians are not interested’

Gavin criticised Irish politicians saying they have not taken any interest in the case, “our Irish politicians are not interested”.

To be fairly brutal, nobody has given a damn. He (Éanna) cannot see why the Irish government won’t try and help.

Ó Cochláin’s wife Jho told George Hook on Newstalk:

In June last year I met Noirin O’Sullivan. They said they will do all they can to support and help us but nothing has happened so far. contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about the case. It said it is “aware of the case and providing consular assistance” but did not have details about what action was being taken.

However, Gavin added that Éanna is starting to get support from elsewhere:

Very experienced investigators in the US have taken up his case because they feel an injustice is being done.

“Since his latest appeal was turned down in August – his only option now is to go to the Supreme Court, which he is prepared to do.”

Éanna has lost his mother and a brother and sister in the last three years while he has been held in the Philippines and was not able to get back to Ireland to attend their funerals.

Gavin also added that Ó Cochláin has an excellent CV as a psychiatric nurse and has worked for the royal family in Saudi Arabia and has even lectured against drugs.

An online petition that was set up has over 10,500 signatures.

Read: Setback for Cork family trying to free brother from 12-year sentence in the Philippines>

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