01 December 2005

Arrest warrant for party leader


Workers' Party leader Sean Garland failed to appear in court

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of the Workers' Party President Sean Garland after he failed to appear at court in Belfast.

Mr Garland, 71, from Navan in County Meath, is facing possible extradition to the US on counterfeiting charges.

The US government alleges he and others bought, moved and either passed as genuine or re-sold high quality counterfeit $100 notes.

Last month his bail was varied to let him go to Navan for medical treatment.

A short time later, Mr Garland issued a statement from the Irish Republic saying he did not intend to return to Belfast to face the court.

Mr Garland was arrested in Belfast in October on the eve of his party's annual conference and appeared in court the next day, where he was released on bail.

When the extradition hearing resumed on Thursday, the court was told Mr Garland was not present and the judge issued an arrest warrant.

The judge adjourned the hearing until the New Year and said that he would deal with applications to collect bail money totalling £30,000 at that time.

'Super dollars'

The money represented cash lodgements of £10,000 each which three bailsman had to pay into court before Mr Garland was freed.

At the hearing in October, Mr Garland's defence lawyer said his client "strongly protested" his innocence.

The US government indictment also alleges that Garland arranged with North Korean agencies for the purchase of some of the counterfeit notes, known as "super dollars", and enlisted others to disseminate them within the UK.

A BBC investigation last year claimed that ex-KGB officers, the Russian Mafia and the North Korean government were also involved in the counterfeiting operation.

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