Zaitschek blasts Orde over bogus prosecution
Zaitschek blasts Orde over bogus prosecution

The American chef who served as an international scapegoat by the PSNI Special Branch for the infamous Castlereagh break-in of 2002 issued a ‘put up or shut up’ ultimatum to PSNI police chief Hugh Orde this week.

Last Friday the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced it was dropping charges against Larry Zaitschek in connection with a so-called “raid” at the PSNI headquarters in Castlereagh, in which secret Special Branch files are said to have disappeared.

The news of the collapse of the case was released late last Friday afternoon, before the July 4th holiday weekend in the US, to minimise international media embarrassment.

Zaitschek had been threatened with extradition from New York to Belfast for some years on the basis that he was involved in a republican plot to raid the base where he worked. However, the basis for the claim, an acquaintance with Sinn Féin official Denis Donaldson, was fatally undermined when Donaldson confessed to having secretly worked for the Special Branch and MI5.

Defending the PSNI and his own actions, Hugh Orde publicly blamed the collapse of the case on “issues that arose were out of my jurisdiction”, without elaborating.

Hitting back at Orde’s comments, Mr Zaitschek said: “Hugh Orde talks about it being unfair to criticise the PSNI.

“I have been denied direct contact with my son for seven years and four months because of the lies which have been told about me.

“The supposed case against me has been a total sham since day one.”

Rejecting Orde’s claim that the decision to drop the charges against him was taken ‘to protect lives’, he said: “This is nothing more than the PPS and PSNI trying to save face for their own ineptitude.

“There has been cloak and dagger, double-dealing nonsense going on for the last seven years.

“It’s an insult to people’s intelligence.

“I’ve had my life threatened, been falsely accused, slandered, threatened with extradition and kept apart from my son for seven years.

“Even when the charges are finally dropped against me because there’s no evidence, the PSNI is still trying to hide behind smoke and mirrors to escape the blame.

“Hugh Orde should put up or shut up. He’s insane if he thinks people are going to buy this cock-and-bull story.”

Mr Zaitschek will now go to court to seek full access to his son who he has not seen for seven years.

The man dubbed ‘Larry the Chef’ described the case as a mockery of justice and said the charges had been entirely bogus from the offset.

He said the PSNI had deliberately deprived him of contact with his son since the case arose.

“Seasoned observers should see through this farcical statement for the mockery of justice that it represents,” he said.

“Over the last number of years, the PPS and PSNI, to cover up their own ineptitude, had attempted to have me hung, drawn and quartered in the court of public opinion, with total disregard for my right to a fair trial and my right to family life.

“I will now take immediate steps to take those rights back.

“It is my intention to immediately pursue direct contact with my son through the family courts.

“I have always focused my attention on re-establishing contact with Pearse and although I feel relieved today, the fact remains that my son and I have been denied access to one another since March 2002, and that time can never be made up.”

Mr Zaitschek’s lawyer, Paddy Murray of Kevin Winters Solicitors, said his client had been used by the PSNI as a “a pawn in a wider political conspiracy” and added that the case paralleled the “investigation” into the so-called “IRA spy ring” at Stormont.

“We were persistently confident that there was never any evidence to connect our client to the alleged burglary at Castlereagh PSNI station and today’s announcement comes as no surprise,” he said.

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