independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Man found guilty of menacing call now faces quiz by US investigators

Ali Charaf Damache (left) leaving Waterford Circuit Court after he pleaded guilty to sending a menacing phone message to a US lawyer

An Algerian-born man who made a menacing phone call to a US lawyer who organised an anti-terrorism rally has been sentenced to four years in prison after changing his plea from not guilty to guilty.

Ali Charaf Damache (47), now an Irish citizen, of 1 John Colwyn House, High Street, Waterford, had initially denied two charges of threatening to kill Michigan-based lawyer Majed Moughni and sending him a menacing telephone message.

On the sixth day of his trial at Waterford Circuit Court, he pleaded guilty to sending the menacing message and the State entered a nolle prosequi in relation to the more serious charge.

Judge Donagh McDonagh sentenced him to four years' imprisonment, backdated almost three years to when Damache was placed in custody when arrested on March 9, 2010, and suspended the last year of the sentence.

The defendant was told he had no more time to serve in relation to this trial, but was immediately re-arrested in the courtroom by detectives working from an international arrest warrant, issued as part of a wider international investigation originating in the US.

He was taken away from the courthouse in an unmarked garda car, escorted by two vehicles from the armed regional support unit.

Damache was born in Algeria, spent several years in France and moved to Ireland in 2000 and lived for most of his time here in Cork, studying at UCC and being employed in a number of sales jobs.

The court heard that Majed Moughni organised a protest against terrorism "in the name of Islam" on the day the so-called "underwear bomber", Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was due to appear in court in Detroit in January of 2010, in relation to a failed plot to blow up an airliner as it was about to land in Detroit Airport on Christmas Day of 2009.

The day after Mr Moughni's rally, Damache phoned him from Waterford saying: "If you were in front of me, I would shoot you. I would put a bullet in your head... even in America, when we get you, you will pay."

Deportation

He has previous convictions in France, going back to 1992, 1995 and 1996, for offences including minor bodily injury and failing to comply with a deportation order. His first wife, his childhood sweetheart who he married in France in 1991, died of breast cancer in 1999.

After arriving in Ireland he married a woman from Cork, Mary Cronin, in 2002 but the marriage officially ended in 2008. He had since got married, in a Muslim ceremony, to Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, with whom he was living in Waterford at the time of his arrest.

Irish Independent

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