PH: Irish nurse facing drug charges pleads for help

20170112120000, Martina C
Rolled cigarette
An Irish nurse detained in the Philippines for four years on allegations he smuggled in cannabis has appealed to his government for help.

Conviction of the drug charge could mean jail time of up to 14 years in the Philippines for Eanna O’Cochlain, a 55-year-old former psychiatric nurse arrested at the Laoag International Airport in 2013.

Authorities supposedly found 0.38 grams of cannabis, a banned substance in the Philippines.

A native of Cork, Ireland, Mr. O’Cochlain claimed he had Old Holborn cigarettes in his possession, which are hand-rolled tobacco unfamiliar to airport security men. He was searched three times, and eventually brought to the police station for further questioning.

The detained nurse’s theory is that at the station, his cigarettes were replaced with real marijuana joints, that led to the drug charge.

Mr. O’Cochlain insists that the banned drug was planted on him by corrupt officials, who he claims have been asking for ‘corrupt money’ in exchange for dropping the charges.

“I was told if I don’t pay up I will be found guilty. They were threatening to give me 25 years if I did not pay them around €7,000 to 10,000 ,” he was quoted as saying, according to The Independent.

He refused to pay the corrupt officials as it would bring his ideals into question.

His case was heard before a regional trial court. The foreign nurse said video evidence that would have proven his innocence was ignored, and he was found guilty by the court.

Burning marijuana joint
Burning marijuana joint

“I have 27 years of experience as a nurse. It’s ludicrous to think someone with 6 years of education would step on an international flight with 0.38 grams of marijuana rolled in joints,” he said.

Since then, he has battled the legal system to exonerate himself of the charges.

Finally in December 2016, Mr O’ Cochlain released a video seeking the help of the Irish government to get him out of this ‘farce trial’ in the Philippines.

He said this experience caused him and his family great trauma, essentially because it has kept them apart for four years. His wife, who is of Filipino birth, is currently living in London together with their daughter.

Compounding Mr. O’Cochlain’s woes is his poor health condition. The detained foreign nurse said he was suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

In his plea video posted on YouTube, he said, “I am appealing to the Irish People, the Ministers for Affairs Charlie Flanagan and Taoiseach Enda Kenny and anyone else, to get me out of this country.” MIMS

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