Courts

Saturday 2 August 2014

Court denies legal aid for FBI child porn suspect

Ruaidhri Giblin

Published 13/03/2014|02:30

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Eric Eoin Marques
Eric Eoin Marques

The man the FBI has called "the largest facilitator of child porn in the world" was refused legal aid prior to his application for a judicial review of the decision not to prosecute him in Ireland.

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Eric Eoin Marques is alleged to be the owner and administrator of an anonymous hosting site known as Freedom Hosting.

He is wanted by US authorities to face charges relating to conspiring to distribute and advertise child pornography, and advertising and distributing child pornography.

The 28-year-old, with an address at Mountjoy Square in central Dublin, has been in custody since his arrest in August last year, after he was refused bail over concerns he represented a flight risk – and that he may abscond or interfere with evidence in the case.

The charges against Mr Marques relate to images on over 100 "anonymous websites" described as being extremely violent and graphic, depicting the rape and torture of pre-pubescent children.

In his decision to refuse legal aid yesterday, Mr Justice John Edwards said that Mr Marques faced extradition for very serious offences.

So it was highly desirable that he be legally represented, the judge said, but the question was whether he could afford it.

The evidence was that over the last five or six years before his arrest, the judge said, Mr Marques earned very substantial sums of money, running into seven figures, rounded up.

Judge Edwards said large sums of money still existed in a variety of bank accounts – but these were all frozen by the FBI.

Mr Marques's evidence was that he transferred substantial sums of money to his then girlfriend and certain associates of hers, the judge said.

"It's difficult to get a handle on whether I'm being told the truth. All I have is his say so," the judge said.

NAIVETY

Judge Edwards said that although he was prepared to accept Mr Marques's naivety about money, he was not satisfied at this point to give a recommendation to grant legal aid.

But, the judge said, if some new evidence was put before the court, it might or might not make some difference.

Counsel for Mr Marques, Mark Lynam, said the judicial review proceedings should commence on March 25, 2014.

If convicted, Mr Marques could face the remainder of his natural life in prison, as the four charges could result in a sentence totalling 100 years.

Irish Independent

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