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Former IRA man facing extradition from Spain denies child sex charges

By Greard Couzens

Published 26/02/2016

A former senior member of the IRA held on sex assault charges has denied the allegations in a court in Spain.

The Belfast-born suspect also refused to be extradited during the short hearing, which took place in private.

The man, in his 60s, was remanded in custody pending a new hearing that will be held in public and at which a response to the Republic's extradition request will be decided.

No date has been set for the hearing, but it is expected to take place in a number of months, rather than weeks.

It is understood authorities in Ireland now have 40 days to present a formal extradition request to the Spanish authorities.

A judge will then have to decide whether to authorise the extradition or not.

A source at the Audiencia Nacional - Spain's central criminal court - said: "The judge can decide to reject the extradition request.

"Detainees who oppose extradition have a defence lawyer at the hearing who puts forward arguments against sending them back to the countries where they are wanted." The suspect is expected to be held at maximum-security Soto del Real prison near Madrid.

The one-time IRA commander and former senior Sinn Fein activist, who moved abroad a number of years ago, has been under investigation by Garda in Dublin for almost two years.

Their probe was launched after a woman made a formal complaint to Garda alleging that she had been abused as an under-age girl by a powerful figure in the IRA.

The jail where the suspect is to be held, known officially as Madrid Penitentiary Centre Number Five, is where Ashya King's parents Brett and Naghmeh were held in 2014 after being arrested following their decision to leave Britain with their sick son.

Road rage killer Kenneth Noye also spent some time at the prison before extradition back to Britain after being detained on an international arrest warrant.

A Spanish prison service source said: "Soto del Real jail is a temporary stop for those facing extradition from Spain to another country and criminals and criminal suspects who have been returned to Spain as part of extradition proceedings."

The Spanish prison service declined to comment on the defendant's whereabouts.

The man, who was living in Spain on a British passport, was arrested in the town of Catral near Alicante on Spain's Costa Blanca.

A Spanish police source said officers seized him at around 9am on Tuesday.

A spokesman for police described him as a fugitive in a statement issued earlier in the week.

The statement made no mention of his IRA past, stating: "Officers have detained a British fugitive wanted for four sexual assaults on a minor.

"They happened at the beginning of the 1990s when the victim, the daughter of the fugitive's then partner, was aged between nine and 11.

"The detainee was the subject of four arrest warrants issued last January by a judge in Dublin."

The crimes are said to have happened between January 1991 and June 1993.

The officers who arrested the unnamed man at an undisclosed location belonged to a specialist Madrid-based anti-fugitives unit and a local unit specialising in combating violent crime.

A source said: "Work had to be done to find him when we received the arrest order".

Garda believe the man was a member of the IRA's so-called southern command in the mid-1990s when Det Gda Jerry McCabe was murdered during an aborted raid on a postal van at Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996.

It was alleged at the time that the murder had been carried out by a rogue unit and that the shooting had not been sanctioned. Four members of the unit were subsequently convicted of murder.

Shortly after the shooting, the suspect left the country and moved abroad, where he has lived for almost two decades.

Belfast Telegraph

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