A COUNTY Limerick man who has been locked up on the continent for two months while he awaits trial for allegedly smuggling drugs is completely innocent, say his family.
Sean Ryan “Thadger” from the Doon Road, Cappamore was arrested in Bulgaria at the end of March and has been extradited to Lille in France in the past two weeks.
Mr Ryan’s wife, Joan, says it has been a “nightmare” for her family and friends.
“They have no proof or evidence. I can’t visit him, can’t phone him and have only been allowed to see him once.
“We had two minutes before and after the court case when it was adjourned two weeks ago in France and he is holding up okay.
“He is very strong and very positive because he is completely innocent.
“He says ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’ but you still have to prove it to them,” said Mrs Ryan. In France a suspect is presumed guilty until proven innocent.
The alleged incident dates back to July, 2010.
Mr Ryan, 58, who runs a well established haulage contractors in the county, had employed a Dublin man to drive a truck not owned by the Cappamore man. It is understood a major heroin haul was found in the lorry by French officials.
“That driver is completely innocent as well. He has been locked up for almost two years now,” say the family.
The Limerick Leader understands that when the truck was loaded the Dublin driver wasn’t allowed in to the warehouse. The trial of Mr Ryan and the Dublin man will commence on Friday, June 8 in Lille.
The family issued a statement to the Limerick Leader which reads:
“Sean is an honest, hard working, family man and has the full support of his family, his wide circle of friends and his community. All allegations are totally denied.
“Irish drivers are up in arms as to what is happening in France. The system in France is to hold drivers for up to two years while investigating the cases, highlighted previously on the Joe Duffy show by families of drivers who are held.
We are fully confident that Sean’s good name will be exonerated and we would like to thank everyone for their support.”
It is believed that Mr Ryan spoke to investigating police from France in Cappamore about six months ago. He thought this was the end of the matter until the court case.
However, a European Arrest Warrant was issued and when Mr Ryan was in Bulgaria on business at the end of March he was arrested by police there.
He was held in Bulgaria until two weeks ago when he was extradited to Lille in France where he now awaits trial.
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed to the Limerick Leader they are “aware of the case”.