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Limerick man could face extradition over rhino horn theft

The 31-year-old is wanted by Austrian prosecutors investigating the theft of the rhino horns from a museum and an antique dealer.

Seized rhino horns (File photo)
Seized rhino horns (File photo)
Image: AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong

A DECISION WILL be made next Wednesday as to whether a Limerick man will be extradited to Austria and charged with stealing rhino horns.

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

The stolen rhino horns were taken from a museum and an antique dealer in Vienna last summer. Mr Quilligan was originally arrested in January this year.

Senior counsel Remy Farrell is arguing against the extradition on the grounds that there is no evidence that a formal decision has been made to prosecute.

“This is the fault line in the case,” Mr Farrell said in the Central Criminal Court on Thursday. He argued that Mr Quilligan could be subject to interrogation and “things other than prosecution” if the Austrian authorities do not formally file an indictment.

According to the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003, Ireland does not grant extradition requests when the requesting EU country only intends to investigate a criminal offence.

Mr Justice John Edwards reminded the counsel that this provision was intended to prevent extradited suspects being subject to interrogation “where their liberty might be constrained.”

State counsel Diarmaid McGuinness argued that the case against Mr Quilligan is exactly where it is expected to be. “When the Austrian authorities are in a position to file the indictment, the trial actually commences,” Mr McGuinness said.

Mr McGuinness added that the opposing counsel had not been able to make the case that Mr Quilligan was going to face interrogation if extradited. Mr McGuinness said there was a clear intention from Austria to file an indictment and Mr Quilligan would then have whatever representation he may wish.

Quilligan is currently remanded on bail until a final decision is made on his extradition.

About the author:

Aaron Mc Nicholas

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