Sinn Féin blasts Fusco extradition bid
Ferris calls on Dublin to rescind all outstanding extradition warrants
BY ROISÍN DE ROSA
gelo Fusco, who spent years fighting against being returned from the 26 Counties to prison in the North, this week again faces the prospect of extradition.
Fusco was arrested at a checkpoint in Castleisland, County Kerry, on Monday evening, 3 January. The following day, through biting wind, sleet and snow, gardai drove him at high speed towards the border even as his legal team intervened to stop the extradition.
The government and the gardaí have major questions to answer as to why this extradition was allowed to proceed at this time.
gelo Fusco’s counsel made immediate application to the High Court in Dublin before Judge Finnegan who, at the eleventh hour, granted an order requiring that Angelo appear before the High Court on Thursday, 6 January. The car racing to the border turned back to Dublin. Later on Tuesday evening, Angelo was taken to Castlerea Prison in County Roscommon.
Fusco’s arrest came as something of a surprise, as he has been living openly in Tralee, Kerry, over the last two years.
Reacting to the news of the arrest and extradition attempt, Sinn Féin Kerry County Councillor Martin Ferris expressed anger and resentment at "the state’s pursuit of Angelo Fusco, which runs completely counter to government’s commitments under the Good Friday Agreement to release all political prisoners." Ferris pointed out Sinn Féin’s longstanding oppoosition to the "unjust practice of political extradition" and called on the Dublin government to release Fusco and "to rescind all outstanding warrants against those facing political charges".
"Angelo Fusco is one of many people on the run and before the courts on bail facing extradition proceedings and one of hundreds of people displaced by the conflict, an area that must be addressed," said Ferris.
Fusco was arrested in Ballymurphy, in May 1980 after a botched SAS ambush in which SAS Captain Herbert Westmacott was shot dead. Fusco, Paul ‘Dingus’ Magee, Robert Campbell and Joe Doherty were sentenced to life with recommendations of at least 30 years. Their sentences, however, were imposed in their absence, after they were among seven prisoners who had escaped from Crumlin Road Jail. Many remember Magee’s tumultuous welcome at the Bodenstown Commemoration of that year.
Subsequently arrested in the 26 Counties, Fusco was tried under the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act for the escape and sentenced to ten years in Portlaoise Prison. Just prior to his release from Portlaoise the British sought his extradition on foot of warrants relating to the original sentence, and the long process of fighting extradition began. In 1992, a District Court granted an extradition order against him. This was overturned by the High Court in a landmark decision three years later. In February 1998, however, the Supreme Court reversed this decision, and ordered Fusco’s extradition, just two months before the Good Friday Agreement came into force.
Today, the High Court will be asked to free Angelo Fusco on the grounds of the "profound changes" which have occurred following the Good Friday Agreement. "We have a right to expect that the days when this state trampled on the rights of citizens to secure extradition from this jurisdiction at Britain’s behest, are over," said Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Meanwhile, Paul Magee, arrested in England in 1992 and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment at the Old Bailey, is now released as part of the Good Friday Agreement. Another Crumlin Road escapee, Joe Doherty, went to the United States, where he was arrested in 1983. Doherty fought a nine-year battle against extradition to the Six Counties, gathering enormous support amongst the Irish-American community, but was finally sent back to Long Kesh. He too has been released under the Good Friday Agreement.
The question on many people’s lips is whose agenda were the Garda Síochána in Kerry pursuing when they arrested Angelo Fusco? "Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, political extradition caused major political controversy and saw the authorities in this state trample on the rights of citizens to secure extyradition at Britain’s behest," said Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. "We had a right to expect that these days were over. The decision to proceed with the extradition is disgraceful.