Provo fugitive Fusco sent back to prison
Published 07/01/2000 | 00:11
FORMER IRA fugitive Angelo Fusco was sent back to prison last night to await a legal challenge against fresh attempts to extradite him to the North to serve a life sentence for murder.
Fusco, a 43-year-old unemployed fisherman, of Shanakill, Tralee, Co Kerry, had earlier successfully applied for a judicial inquiry in the High Court into his detention and a review of a District Court order extraditing him to the North.
He is facing a minimum 30-year sentence for his part in the murder, 20 years ago, of SAS Captain Herbert Westmacott.
In the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan refused to free Fusco on bail on the grounds he had in the past shown such determination to evade enforcement of the extradition order as to be likely to abscond again should his legal challenge fail.
Within the next two to three months the High Court will consider if it has jurisdiction to review and quash the extradition order on the grounds of profound changes in circumstances brought about by the Good Friday Peace Agreement.
OUT OF TIME
It will also determine if the warrants for arrest of Fusco under the extradition order had lapsed in that they had not been executed within a month of the Supreme Court affirming their legality in February 1998 and had not since been renewed.
Fusco's legal team, headed by Michael Forde SC, will also challenge his detention on the basis that the grounds on which he was arrested were defective.
Mr Forde presented what he described as a ``shopping list'' of reliefs being sought by Mr Fusco to legally block his extradition. He told the court his client escaped with seven others from Crumlin Road courthouse in 1981 and had been convicted and jailed for a minimum of 30 years in his absence for the murder of Capt Westmacott who had been shot dead by the IRA with an M-60 machine-gun while leading an eight-man patrol in north Belfast during a raid on a house.
Fusco was among a number of men later arrested and charged with the killing.
The day before the end of their trial in Belfast in 1981 the accused men escaped from the court. In January 1982, Fusco was arrested in Tralee and sentenced to 10 years in Portlaoise prison.
As he neared the end of the sentence he had been brought before the Dublin District Court on foot of extradition warrants from the authorities in the North.
Fusco appealed the extradition to the Supreme Court which ruled in 1998 that the District Court order was valid.
Gardai told the court yesterday they had been on the look-out for Fusco until Monday night last when he was arrested at a checkpoint in Castleisland near Tralee, Co Kerry. He was on his way, under Garda escort, to the Border on Tuesday when Mr Justice Finnegan granted an injunction restraining his extradition.
Michael Farrell, solicitor, told the court there had been a profound change in the circumstances affecting Fusco brought about by the Good Friday Agreement.
He said the Agreement contained a section on prisoners which provided for an accelerated release programme for prisoners convicted of scheduled offences in the North who were affiliated to organisations maintaining a complete and unequivocal ceasefire.
When Mr Fusco had been in custody in Portlaoise jail he had been recognised as belonging to a group on ceasefire and would qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement. He believed that if returned to the North, Fusco would be expected to be given credit for time spent in prison in the Republic and would be due an early release date either before or by July 2000. Mr Farrell said several hundred prisoners had already been released in the North, including Joseph Patrick Doherty who had been convicted of the same offences as Mr Fusco and who had escaped from custody at the same time.
Edward Comyn SC, counsel for the Garda Commissioner, said the State would be preparing evidence that Fusco had deliberately evaded apprehension since the Supreme Court decision of February 1998.
Two Garda witnesses gave evidence of having stopped and arrested Fusco at Castleisland last Monday night.
They said they found two driving licences and an identity card bearing Fusco's photograph but with false names and addresses both in Andersonstown, Belfast, and Donnybrook, Dublin.
Fusco, in evidence, said he had used one of the driving licences to make visits to the North and another to visit his home regularly in Tralee.
He used a legal driving licence for part-time work with Cahal Quinn, builder, of Omagh, Co Tyrone, who carried out building work in Dublin. He told the court he lived with his brother at Ferrycarrig Park, Coolock, Dublin, and visited his Tralee home almost every weekend.
He felt the gardai had not wanted to extradite him and he had carried the false Irish driving licence to give any guard who did not want to arrest him ``a way out''.
Mr Justice Finnegan said that in light of his determined efforts to evade apprehension there was a likelihood of Fusco absconding. The matter was put in for mention on January 18 with an exchange of legal submissions and sworn affidavits prior to January 31.
Angry Sinn Fein supporters clash with gardai after ruling
By STEPHEN O'BRIEN
THERE were angry scuffles outside the Four Courts yesterday as Sinn Fein supporters struggled with gardaí following the High Court's refusal to grant bail to former IRA man Angelo Fusco.
As a crowd of about 80 gathered outside the court, several protesters grappled with the 20 gardaí attempting to clear a path for the unmarked prison car taking Mr Fusco back to Castlerea jail.
Chants of ``no extradition'' changed to ``Gardaí - RUC'' as the crowd's anger was heightened by the surprise surrounding the ruling.
Mr Fusco's supporters had expected Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan to grant bail after Edward Comyn SC, counsel for the Garda Commissioner, said that while he was formally opposing bail, he would be requesting strict conditions attached to bail should the judge see fit to grant it in the event of an adjournment of the matter.
Mr Justice Finnegan threatened to clear the court when a cry of ``shame'' greeted his ruling, as Marie Fusco tightened her grip on her husband's arm.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was in court for the morning's proceedings which were dominated by legal argument.
But events appeared to be taking a certain course in the afternoon when Mr Justice Finnegan granted leave for a full judicial review and both sides agreed to furnish certain submissions and affidavits in the coming weeks.
Garda Paul Browne and Det Sgt Kevin Dillon however gave evidence that when Fusco was stopped at a routine drink driving checkpoint a few miles from Tralee on Tuesday, he was carrying both northern and southern driving licences carrying his photograph but bearing false names and addresses.
Dillon said he believed Fusco would abscond if he was given bail.
Fusco took the stand and told Mr Justice Finnegan he had lived at his own home in Tralee for six weeks after the 1998 Supreme Court judgment approving his extradition to serve a sentence for murdering an SAS officer.
He then moved to his brother's house in Dublin's Coolock and worked as a part-time builder. He said he carried the false ID cards to avoid putting gardaí in the position of having to arrest him if he was stopped at a checkpoint. He felt if they wanted to arrest him, they would have done so in the six weeks after he lost his Supreme Court case.
He also said it would not be in his interest to abscond while on bail because he believed he would serve no more than six months if he was sent back to the North.
The judge said he was concerned that Fusco was able to get false ID and was willing to use it.
He had to balance the likelihood of his absconding against the question of the likely period of detention before a full hearing being ``oppressive''.
He did not think a two or three month adjournment would be oppressive.
The disturbance outside the court after the hearing lasted a few minutes. A number of garda hats were knocked to the ground but no arrests were made and order was quickly restored once the prison car drove clear from the scene on Dublin's Chancery Street.
Sinn Fein negotiator Martin Ferris said: ``Obviously we are very disappointed that Angelo Fusco was unable to get bail here today.
``The pursuance of the State warrant in attempting to extradite Angelo Fusco has created enormous anger and frustration within republicans and nationalists.
``Ultimate responsibility lies with the Dublin Government and the Minister for Justice. This morning and throughout this week, we have called on them to rescind the warrants.
``The events of pursuing the warrant has created a lack of confidence, confidence that had been built up over a number of weeks and months around the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. And it is necessary to restore that confidence.
``The man has spent 12 years in prison and it doesn't make sense at this time for the Dublin Government to attempt to extradite Angelo back to the Six Counties when the prisoners are now being released ... when we have seen 15 prisoners released on Christmas week from Castlerea. There is no logical understanding for it,'' said Mr Ferris.