Harry Fitzsimons arrested in Senegal

As the BBC reports

A west Belfast man has been arrested in Senegal in west Africa.

It is understood Harry Fitzsimons was detained in the capital Dakar last month.

Earlier this year Italian police issued an arrest warrant for Mr Fitzsimons in connection with an alleged mafia money-laundering operation in Calabria in Italy.

The report also notes that the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin has confirmed his detention and is providing consular assistance to Mr Fitzsimons.

When news broke, on 6 March, of the arrest warrant for Fitzsimons – a former member of the Provisional IRA who was jailed for bombing the Woodburn House Hotel in Belfast in 1971, he was released in 1981 –  his solicitor was quick to deny that his client was “on the run”, claiming instead that he was “away on business”.  A spokeswoman for the European Anti-Mafia Commission was quoted in the Irish Times report

“The problem is that the man cannot be arrested because he is no longer in Italy, he has gone to a country where the arrest warrant against him cannot be enforced,” Palermo-based Sonia Alfano said.

According to a report on 8 March Fitzsimons, himself, contacted the Belfast Telegraph from “an undisclosed location”.

“I want to be in a position to co-operate with the PSNI but I want to do it in my space,” Fitzsimons said.

“If the PSNI or the Italian authorities want to see my bank details they are welcome. My life is an open book and so are my bank accounts. I want to arrange it through my solicitor and I want you to make it clear, through you, that I am not avoiding this issue.”

A week later, on 15 March, the Andersonstown News reported that “Harry Denies Mafia Claims”.  “Speaking exclusively to the Andersonstown News last night…”

Mr Fitzsimons told us he’s currently travelling on business but plans to be back in Belfast later this week.

Interestingly, a month ago, his business partner, Antonio Velardo, turned up, briefly, in Belize…