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Lithuanian police seek Kinahan hitman over murder of pop star's lover

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Imre Arakas is serving a six-year sentence in Portlaoise

Imre Arakas is serving a six-year sentence in Portlaoise

Imre Arakas is serving a six-year sentence in Portlaoise

An Estonian hitman, who was jailed for his role in a Kinahan cartel murder plot and who is wanted over the murder of a Lithuanian pop star's lover, will challenge a bid to extradite him in October.

Imre Arakas (62) was jailed by the Special Criminal Court for six years in December 2018 after he admitted to conspiring with others to murder James Gately in Northern Ireland between April 3 and 4, 2017. He is serving his sentence in a segregated block in Portlaoise Prison.

Passing sentence at the Special Criminal Court in 2018, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said Arakas had agreed to the "vital role" of pulling the trigger for financial gain and he was prepared to offer his "own detail" on how the murder of Mr Gately was to be performed.

The Estonian separatist told his associates in a text message that he would take out his target with "one shot to the head".

The judge said the married father of two was "ready, willing and able" in his dedicated role.

Lithuanian authorities also suspect that ex-wrestler Arakas was allegedly part of a three-man gang that conspired to murder a man who had an affair with famous Lithuanian pop star Vita Jakutiene.

Lithuanian police are seeking the surrender of Arakas - whose last address was in Sopruse, Tallinn, Estonia - to face charges that include a count of murder as well as firearms and conspiracy-­related charges in relation to the shooting of Deimantas Bugavicius. There is also another warrant for the sole charge of criminal damage.

Additional

Yesterday, Aoife O'Leary BL told Mr Justice Paul Burns that additional information from the Lithuanian authorities had been sought and received, that affidavits had been filed in respect of her client and that two other men had been charged in Lithuania.

Arakas, a former freedom fighter who was previously part of a movement to separate Estonia from the former USSR, appeared by video link from Portlaoise Prison for the brief hearing.

Ms O'Leary told the court she would be seeking a senior counsel in the case, because it was a "very significant matter of murder, firearms and criminal damage".

Arakas expressed a desire to be present in the court for his extradition hearing.

Mr Justice Burns fixed October 9 for the hearing with the matter in for mention on July 20 to resolve any outstanding matters.

Irish Independent