Two ex-IRA members arrested in Spain for smuggling

5th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

Two former members of the Irish Republican Army were arrested in Spain during a sweep on an alleged tobacco and alcohol smuggling racket, police said Monday.

A Spanish police spokesman told AFP the ex-IRA members arrested for heading the network were Leonard Hardy, 53, and his wife Donna Maria Elizabeth Hardy, 48, both of whom were convicted of a 1989 bombing of a British army barracks in Germany.

The couple was arrested in Lanzarote on the Canary Islands on December 29 with five accomplices as part of coordinated sweeps in Las Palmas, Alicante, Malaga and Murcia, a police statement said.

"They led an organisation smuggling tobacco and alcohol, and laundered money through the acquisition of buildings," the statement said, adding that an estimated 10.5 million euros ($12.5 million) worth of real estate had been involved.

High Court judge Pablo Ruz charged the couple with money laundering, smuggling and the funding of terrorism linked to the IRA, a judicial source said.

He ordered that Leonard Hardy be jailed while the investigation continued while the wife was released under judicial supervision so she could look after the couple's children in Britain, the source added.

Spanish officials froze additional property assets worth more than 5.5 million euros ($6.5 million), and 90 bank accounts and investment portfolios in Spain.

They have also requested information from Irish and British authorities about potential assets the group may have acquired abroad.

The IRA waged a bloody battle over decades against British rule in Northern Ireland.

Some 3,000 people were killed in the three decades of sectarian bombings and shootings in Northern Ireland known as "The Troubles" before an historic peace agreement in 1998.


© 2015 AFP

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