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Monday 22 September 2014

Reputed crime boss won't face drugs trial in Spain

Gerard Couzens

Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30

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Christy Kinahan

A reputed underworld boss will not face trial in Spain on drugs and arms trafficking charges.

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Christy Kinahan feared he would be prosecuted for the crimes after a high-profile police raid on his Costa del Sol home in May 2010.

But a judge investigating the Irishman and a gang of alleged accomplices, including his two sons, has decided to drop the allegations.

Kinahan, who was hauled back to a court in Estepona on Wednesday for further questioning, is now being probed only on suspicion of money laundering and membership of a criminal gang.

The dramatic decision, which a state prosecutor decided not to appeal against, will be seen as a major blow for the Spanish police and politicians.

Kinahan and sons Christopher and Daniel were arrested during a series of dawn raids on the Costa del Sol, while nearly a dozen suspects were arrested in Ireland and the UK as part of the same Europol operation.

Investigating judge Maria Carmen Gutierrez Henares is understood to have binned her drugs and weapons trafficking probe after finding no evidence linking Kinahan and his alleged accomplices to the crimes.

Christy, his sons, and alleged right-hand man John Cunningham, will remain on bail along with the other suspects while the court probe continues into money laundering and criminal gang membership allegations.

Sources close to the long-running case predicted last night it could take at least two more years to reach trial – and the number of defendants in the dock would be a fraction of those originally arrested.

One insider said: "All the suspects, including Christy, have been called back to court over the last three weeks to give evidence behind closed doors.

"Most said they had nothing to add to earlier statements.

"Christy attended court on Wednesday but managed to get in and out of the building without anyone cottoning on to the fact it was him.

"He's not surprised the drugs and weapons allegations against him have been dropped, but he's very relieved.

"The judge took her decision around the same time she called the first of the suspects in for further questioning.

"Their defence lawyers are confident the money laundering charges are not going to prosper either."

Another well-placed source added: "The suspects weren't asked a single question about drugs or weapons."

More than 20 people including the Kinahans were arrested on the Costa del Sol more than four years ago as part of Operation Shovel.

Christy Kinahan, arrested at his luxury apartment in a private development near Estepona, spent six months on remand in jail before being bailed.

At the time police said Kinahan had property worth €500m in Brazil and €160m in Spain.

Irish Independent

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