‘Michael Lynn knew this could happen to him some day’

Police who tracked Interpol-sought Lynn were surprised by simplicity of his existence

Thu, Sep 5, 2013, 09:14

When police officers in Recife received a “code red” alert to arrest and detain the Irish solicitor Michael Lynn, it took them just a few hours to track him down. Armed officers followed him around the city for three days before making their move. What surprised them was that the man who had set off the highest-level alert on Interpol’s colour-coded system seemed to be living such an ordinary, mundane life.

“We knew his routine. He was calm, and it’s clear he didn’t realise he was being watched,” says Supt Marcello Diniz Cordeiro of the federal police in Recife, the city where Mr Lynn had been living for two years before his arrest last Thursday.

“He had a very regular pattern,” adds Giovani Santoro, a spokesman for the force. “He would go to the school where he taught, go out with his wife, go to the shops . . . The federal police were taken aback by the simple life he was living.”

Lynn was followed by officers in unmarked cars for three days before the decision was taken to arrest him while he was shopping at a supermarket near his house in the suburb of Candeias.

Santoro says they chose not to arrest him at home because they knew his wife, Bríd, was pregnant and didn’t want to cause her undue stress.

Lynn’s wife, who is six months pregnant, has visited him a number of times at Cotel, the overcrowded prison where he has been held since last Thursday.

The couple have a two-year-old son whose birth in Brazil led to their securing permanent residence status.

The police investigation has revealed that Lynn first came to Brazil in 2007. In December that year, he fled Ireland with debts of €80 million and is known to have been based in Hungary and Portugal at different times over the following two years.

Brazilian records for the period 2007 to 2011, the year his son was born, show he entered the country four times.

Lynn is believed to have chosen to live in Brazil partly because it has no extradition treaty with Ireland. Santoro says the 44 year old was “calm and relaxed” in police custody and didn’t show “any signs of anger”, but remarks that there was a certain resignation about Lynn’s reaction.

“When we arrested him and read him his rights, he said he knew this could happen to him some day, but he didn’t think it would happen in Brazil,” says the spokesman. “He was surprised.”

Lynn was detained at federal police headquarters for several hours after his arrest. His wife was allowed to speak with him briefly before he was brought for a medical examination (to prove he hadn’t been beaten in custody) and transferred to Cotel prison.

Special jail section
Diniz confirms Lynn has been moved to a special section of the jail, away from the other prisoners. “If he was put in with local prisoners, there is a worry that he would be attacked,” he says. “We don’t want anything to happen to him.”

When The Irish Times called to the house rented by the Lynn family in Candeias yesterday, a woman’s voice responded through the security system to say Lynn’s wife was not at home. The family’s compound, surrounded by a high wall topped with barbed wire and daubed in parts with graffiti, includes an outdoor swimming pool and a large garden.

The suburb itself if in a relatively poor but rapidly developing area about half-an-hour’s drive from central Recife. The roads are unpaved, the sewers overflow on to the streets and there is a slum near the house.

Lynn’s legal team in Recife have said he will resist the attempt to have him sent back to Ireland, believing his Brazilian-born child and the absence of an extradition treaty are factors in his favour.

The Irish request was made on foot of a bilateral, reciprocal deal struck recently between the two countries.

His lawyers also intend to lodge a bail application by the end of the week, but a decision on whether to release him could take up to three weeks.

Under Brazilian law, Lynn can be detained for up to 90 days.