Wednesday 25 April 2018

Man fights Rhino Horn extradition

Natasha Reid

THE High Court will decide next week whether to extradite a Limerick traveller to Austria, where he is wanted in connection with the theft and attempted theft of rhinoceros horns.

John Quilligan (31), of Roches Road in Rathkeale, is being sought by Austrian prosecutors investigating the theft of the horns, which are estimated to be worth €300,000 on the black market.

Diarmaid McGuinness SC, for the State, has told the High Court that, based on the testimony of a man already sentenced in Austria, authorities there ‘highly suspect’ Mr Quilligan of being a member of an Irish criminal gang specialising in the theft of rhino horns.

He said a European Arrest Warrant had been issued in Vienna in January for the surrender of Mr Quilligan, also known as John Ross. He said authorities were seeking his return in relation to four offences, including the aggravated professional theft and attempted theft of rhino horns.

He added that the Austrian authorities had specified that he faced criminal prosecution there.

Mr Quilligan is fighting extradition, arguing that there was no evidence that a decision had been made to charge him once he gets to Austria, something his lawyers claimed was required by the law.

However, Mr McGuinness said yesterday (Thursday) that the European Arrest Warrant Act allowed for the surrender of individuals against whom charges had not been brought. He said it required the court to presume a decision had been made.

He said the court had the strongest evidence that there was an intention to file an indictment against Mr Quilligan once he’d been given the opportunity to respond.

Mr Justice John Edwards said that this was his first case involving Austria and that he would give his decision this coming Wednesday.

Mr Quilligan, who sat at the back of the court, was remanded on continuing bail until then.

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