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Florida gun-running trail to start April 24

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

The trial of the four Irish nationals accused of shipping weapons from Florida to Ireland is scheduled to start April 24 in Federal Court in Fort Lauderdale.

The four, Conor Claxton, Siobhan Browne, Martin Mullan and Anthony Smith were arrested during swoops in Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale last July.

Meanwhile, the Florida Sun-Sentinel has reported that federal investigators claimed that Irish authorities will not let U.S. prosecutors interview a dozen witnesses who may provide clues about the plot to ship guns from Florida to Ireland

Two weeks ago, they four were arraigned on a second indictment accusing them of aiding terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder in Northern Ireland.

All four defendants pleaded not guilty. According to news reports, some of the defendants are expected to seek separate trials.

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A hearing took place last week for the purpose of setting a schedule for dealing with pre-trial motions, Daniel McElhatton, the Philadelphia lawyer who is representing Mullan, told the Echo Tuesday. He said there would be arguments on the pre-trial motions on March 27.

The defendants are accused of receiving funds wired from accounts in Belfast to purchase and mail weapons to Ireland. According to the indictment, beginning in January 1999, the defendants obtained more than 90 handguns and shotguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Federal investigators and defense lawyers were tentatively set to go to Ireland and Belfast later this month to get depositions from prospective witnesses, including some who received packages of weapons. The depositions would be videotaped and played at trial in Florida.

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