Monday 22 January 2018

Man held over theft of rhino horns in Austria

Paul Williams

A TRAVELLER from Rathkeale, Co Limerick has been arrested in Dublin on foot of a European arrest warrant relating to the theft of rhino horns.

Austrian prosecutors investigating the theft of rhino horns from a museum and an antique dealer in Vienna last summer want to extradite John Quilligan (31) to face related criminal charges.

The value of the haul is estimated to be worth in excess of €300,000 on the black market.

The Austrian authorities requested Garda assistance in tracking Mr Quilligan, who has an address at Roches Road in Rathkeale but spends much of his time travelling around Europe.

The warrant was issued after police made a number of arrests following the robbery.

Mr Quilligan, who is understood to have returned to Ireland for Christmas, was arrested by uniformed officers at a check point in Swords on Wednesday afternoon and taken before the High Court.

He was later released on bail on condition he surrender his passport.

The suspect can either fight the extradition request or volunteer to travel back to Austria and stand trial.

He is the second Limerick man to be arrested here on a European arrest warrant relating to the theft of rhino horn.

Last October, Michael Kealy of Abbeylands, Askeaton, was arrested by gardai in Kilkenny after British police sought his extradition in connection with the theft of a €200,000 rhino horn. It is alleged he was involved in the robbery of the rhino horn from an antiques dealer in Nottingham.

The black market trade in mature rhino horn across the world is now considered more lucrative than the drug trade, with an average 4kg horn being sold for up to €50,000 per kilo. Since 2010 there have been over 60 thefts from museums, antique dealers and private collectors across Europe.

Irish Independent

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