Irish Republican News · December 8, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Chef seeks to end PSNI harassment

An American citizen who the North’s PSNI police allegedly want to question about the removal of top secret files from a Crown force base has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman.

Larry Zaitschek worked as a chef at the PSNI’s Castlereagh holding centre in Belfast at the time of the alleged “break-in” when dozens of highly sensitive Special Branch files disappeared.

Senior police officers originally admitted members of their own forces took the documents, but subsequently reversed this and blamed the Provisional IRA. The PSNI now claim Mr Zaitschek facilitated the burglary that occurred on March 17, 2002, on behalf of the IRA.

Republicans believe the break-in was the work of elements within the security services determined to derail the peace process. Despite publicly announcing that the American is a prime suspect, the PSNI has yet to provide the prosecution service with enough evidence to request his extradition.

Mr Zaitschek has a young son living in the North, but fear of arrest is preventing him seeing him. In light of this the New Yorker has lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman through the human rights organisation British Irish Rights Watch (BIRW).

BIRW director Jane Winter said: “We have sent a complaint to the Police Ombudsman on behalf of Laurence Zaitschek about the PSNI’s failure, more than three years after the mysterious “break-in” at Castlereagh, to provide the Director of Public Prosecutions with enough evidence to decide whether or not Laurence Zaitschek should face extradition.

“Laurence Zaitschek maintains that he is wholly innocent, but the fear of arrest should he return is preventing him from having access to his small son.”

Sinn Féin policing and justice spokesman, Gerry Kelly, said the Castlereagh break-in fits into a litany of recent cases: “It starts with a high profile raid, continues with a Special Branch briefing to selected journalists, and ultimately ends in a legal cul-de-sac with those targeted in the original raid spending years trying to unravel the mess created,” said the North Belfast assemblyman.

  • Northern Bank employee Chris Ward has appeared in court in connection with the robbery from the bank’s headquarters in Belfast last December.

    In a statement that was read out in court, he accused the PSNI of attempting to frame him by spying on him at home and abroad.

    “Police have bugged my house, a holiday in Spain, went through all my phone records, my bank accounts, hounded my friends, even going as far as Australia and have tortured my family in an attempt to frame me with the Northern Bank robbery.

    “Police have failed in all of these counts, they have held me longer than the hostage takers who seized me last year. And indeed have held me in a police station for longer than anyone else in the history of the North of Ireland.”

    A police raid on Casement Park grounds in West Belfast in connection with the robbery was carried out earlier this week without any prior notification to the GAA Gaelic sports association.

    Two other men have also been charged in connection with the raid, which the PSNI have blamed on the Provisional IRA. The IRA has denied any involvement in the heist.

    One of the two men charged, Dominic McEvoy from Kilcoo, has accused the authorities of preventing a bail application by withholding key statements from his lawyers.

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