'They’ve basically sentenced me to death for 0.38g of marijuana'
Irish man Eanna Ó Cochláin has appealed to the Irish government to help him after he was sentenced to 12 years in jail in the Philippines for a crime he says he didn't commit.
Back in May we brought you the news of 55-year old Eanna Ó Cochláin, an Irish nurse who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in the Philippines on drugs charges.
His family spoke at the time of Eanna being 'stitched up' and this morning Brendan O'Connor spoke to the man at the centre of the nightmare on RTE Radio One.
Eanna explained how he ended up with such a sentence hanging over him.
On a trip back to Laoag with his wife in 2013, Eanna believes he was targeted as the authorities knew he was wealthy.
“When I got to the airport, things seemed different. All the official were staring at me,” he recalled. “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.”
Eanna claims that the guards switched his rollies for joints, and they then charged him with drug possession, a very serious offence in the Philippines.
However, the real purpose of the switch, according to Eanna, was to extort money from him.
"About two days later I was told if you don't pay up you will be found guilty," he said. "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.”
“I was brought up in an idealistic way in Ireland and I want to stick to my grounds,” he told O’Connor when the host asked him why he didn't just pay them off. “If I pay, it’ll make every Irish citizen a target.”
“I knew if I paid that, they’d still want more money and they’d still put you in jail. I also learned that my attorney had contacted my wife in London and asked her to pay 200,000 peso (around €4,000) and told her I’d be found not guilty if she did. She paid it, and I was still found guilty,” he said.
Eanna is now appealing for the Irish government to come to his assistance.
“It’s got too far, I've been here two years, the amount of money that would be in the appeals court, I couldn't afford it. We’re talking €20,000 because the higher up in the courts it goes, the higher the pay off..that’s how it goes here.”
“I’m waiting to get help from the Irish government, the Irish government needs to demand my appeal be resolved and a decision made."
Eanna has set up a website bringeannahome.com and he is asking people to sign the petition on there to put pressure on the Irish government to act as he believes his illnesses mean he is effectively facing a death sentence.
“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.”