03 December 2005

Raid suspect can be held longer


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Police have been given more time to question Chris Ward

Detectives investigating the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery in Belfast last year were on Saturday granted an additional 60 hours to question a man.

Chris Ward, 24, an employee of the bank, was arrested last Tuesday. On Thursday, police were given an extra three days to question him.

After the robbery, Mr Ward described on television how he was held captive in the run-up to it.

On Friday, a 50-year-old man held over the raid was released without charge.

He was arrested in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

A police search at Gaelic Athletic Association grounds in west Belfast on Friday is also understood to have been linked to the Northern robbery.

The GAA expressed shock at the investigation at Casement Park, which a police spokesman said was part of an investigation into serious crime.

Chairman of the Antrim County Board Joe O'Boyle said Casement Park Social Club had already co-operated with police.

He said Chris Ward worked there part-time.

Of the 11 people questioned to date in connection with the raid, three have appeared in court.

The robbery happened at the bank's Northern Ireland headquarters at Donegall Square West just before Christmas last year.

Some money seized in County Cork last February was linked to the robbery, but virtually all of the missing millions remain unrecovered.

Police on both sides of the Irish border subsequently blamed the IRA for the raid.

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