Garland case probed by prosecutors
Irish state prosecutors have been asked to examine the case of veteran Republican Sean Garland to determine whether he should be charged with an alleged US super-dollar forgery plot.
The High Court refused an extradition request from the US authorities for the 77-year-old former Workers Party president and referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) office.
The US Secret Service had accused Mr Garland of conspiring to circulate high-grade counterfeit dollar bills throughout the 1990s. The alleged plot is believed to have involved officials from North Korea, Russian spies and the one-time leader of the Official IRA.
Mr Justice John Edwards made the referral to the DPP based on US allegations that much of the alleged counterfeit plot was orchestrated in Ireland. He said the office must therefore decide whether Irish jurisdiction dictates his prosecution. The judge added that he was obliged by law to refer the case.
"I will pass this on to the DPP for the purpose of asking her if she intends to prosecute Mr Garland here in Ireland," said Mr Justice Edwards. "I think I'm obliged by law to refer this to the DPP."
Lawyers for Mr Garland said claims from US authorities that their client committed the alleged offences on Irish soil were first made years ago. "All these allegations made by the Americans have been in the public domain for years," said one solicitor.
Mr Garland was first arrested on foot of the US extradition warrant in 2005 in Northern Ireland. He fled to Dublin after he was released on bail. The ex-IRA leader, who has always protested his innocence, was later arrested in 2009 and released on strict bail conditions. One of those conditions was that he surrendered the title deeds to his family home.
Mr Justice Edwards, who ruled in December the extradition application would be refused, announced on Friday that the deeds to Mr Garland's house would be released, along with his passport and cash bail of 75,000 euro. He now has full control of his assets.
More than 110 parliamentarians from the Dail, Seanad, Northern Ireland Assembly and Westminster have supported Mr Garland's extradition fight.
Northern Ireland-based Rev Chris Hudson, who established the Stop the Extradition of Sean Garland campaign, said: "The US extradition demand was a vindictive act by the former Bush administration designed to punish and isolate North Korea and anyone who had connections with the country."