Ex-IRA chief fighting extradition to US seeks bail

By: By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer
By: By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer

DUBLIN (AP) - A one-time IRA chieftain accused of acquiring counterfeit $100 bills produced by North Korea could flee Ireland if granted bail, a police officer testified Wednesday.

Sean Garland, 74, was arrested Jan. 30 in Dublin outside the headquarters of the Workers Party, the fringe Marxist political group he led until last year. He previously fled from the British territory of Northern Ireland after winning bail there in 2005, the year that the U.S. Justice Department indicted him and sought his extradition.

On Wednesday, Dublin High Court Judge John McMenamin ordered him to stay in jail for at least one more day while he considers freeing Garland, if he surrenders his Irish passport, reports regularly to a local police station and offers financial guarantees - a typical package in a country that liberally grants bail.

But an officer from the police's extradition unit, Sgt. Martin O'Neill, testified that Garland already had sacrificed nearly 30,000 British pounds (euro35,000, $45,000) in guarantees as part of a two-faced bail application in Northern Ireland.

"These conditions are entirely identical to his undertaking in Northern Ireland and he fled bail. I don't agree to these conditions," O'Neill testified. "He can move again to another country. I would class him as being at high risk of moving on again."

Garland's lawyer, Michael Forde, rejected this on the grounds that Garland needs medical care for cancer treatment and diabetes and would be "virtually committing suicide" if he went on the run.

Forde said his client would not be able to reach a safe haven - even though Ireland does not have extradition treaties with most non-European Union countries.

McMenamin asked O'Neill to find out by Thursday whether the police could electronically tag Garland and pinpoint his location remotely. Such technology is common in other Western countries, including Britain and the United States, but not normally used in Ireland.

Garland, when asked by the judge, said he would consent to being electronically monitored.

U.S. authorities have accused Garland of being a primary conveyor in Ireland for North Korean-produced "superdollars," expertly minted $100 notes produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s, allegedly to undermine the American currency.

The Workers Party, which is linked to a long-faded Irish Republican Army faction called the Official IRA, has confirmed it wrote to the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union in 1986 seeking funds - but denies any role in acquiring counterfeit $100 bills produced by North Korea.

According to the 2005 U.S. indictment, Russian officials encouraged Garland and other Official IRA activists to take "superdollars."

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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