Former IRA man arrested in Senegal

Italian authorities wish to extradite ‘Harry’ Fitzsimons (63) over alleged Calabrian mafia property scams


Senior Calabrian prosecutor Nicola Gratteri yesterday confirmed that the former IRA man Henry James Fitzsimons (63), wanted for alleged involvement in money laundering and property scams run by the 'Ndrangheta (Calabrian mafia), was last month arrested in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

The Italian authorities are attempting to have Mr Fitzsimons extradited to Italy.

The involvement of the Northern Irish man with the ‘Ndrangheta came to light in March when his name appeared on the arrest warrant relative to a huge anti-mafia operation mainly in Campania, Calabria, Lazio and Sicily.

More than €450 million worth of property, including 17 holiday villages, was sequestered by police. The warrant for Mr Fitzsimons was issued in relation to holiday homes in Calabria, allegedly run by the Aquino and Morabito families.

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Via his Belfast lawyer, Mr Fitzsimons has “totally refuted” the allegations, claiming he had been involved in a “legitimate business as a promoter of properties in southern Italy”.

In the arrest warrant for Mr Fitzsimons, it is stated that, with Antonio Velardo and Antonio Cupparo of the Morabito family, he was involved from July 2007 in the building of the "Gioello Del Mare" holiday village in Brancaleone, Calabria. The investigators consider this development a "criminal operation" based on the fruits of crime in Ireland, Spain and elsewhere.

Asked by The Irish Times yesterday about the provenance of the "stupefying" amount of money available to Mr Fitzsimons, Mr Gratteri conceded that investigators were unable to identify its source.