Arrested man may be ex-IRA fugitive

 

A man was being held amid tight security in Co Kerry yesterday after his arrest at a checkpoint at Castleisland, near Tralee at 9 p.m.

Although gardai refused to confirm his identity, the man is believed to be former leading member of the IRA, Angelo Fusco, from Belfast, who was convicted of murdering an SAS officer nearly 20 years ago in Belfast.

Fusco escaped with seven others from Crumlin Road Prison in 1981. He was convicted in Belfast and jailed for life in his absence for the murder in 1980 of Capt Herbert Westmacott, who was the highest-ranking member of the SAS to be killed in Northern Ireland.

Capt Westmacott was shot dead by the IRA with an M-60 machine-gun while leading an eight-man patrol in north Belfast during a raid on a house.

Fusco was among a number of men later arrested and charged with the killing. The day before the end of their trial in Belfast in 1981 the accused men escaped from the court in Belfast's Crumlin Road.

In January 1982, Fusco was arrested in Tralee and sentenced to

10 years in Portlaoise Prison, Co Laois. As he neared the end of the sentence, he was brought before the Dublin District Court on foot of extradition warrants from the Northern Ireland authorities in relation to the murder of Capt Westmacott.

Fusco appealed against the order for his extradition and took the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled in February 1998 that he should be extradited. It was during these proceedings that he absconded and he has been on the run since then.