Category: Archive

Report backs probe on N.Y. chef

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

However, Larry Zaitschek, the New Yorker who is at the center of the investigation, immediately rejected the report as being irrelevant.
The report on the theft from a secret police office at Castlereagh on St.
Patrick’s Day 2002 also concluded that British agencies were not involved in the burglary, shoring up claims by police that the IRA was behind the episode.
The report by Sir John Chilcott, an intelligence adviser and former British official in the North, was not released.
But British Secretary of State Paul Murphy revealed some of its content when he notified Parliament that the report had been completed last week. He said it was “able to provide a satisfactory assurance about the quality of the police investigation” into the burglary.
The ongoing police inquiry is seeking to extradite Zaitschek from New
York. Zaitschek, who cooked for police in the station and was known as “Larry the Chef,” was in the complex on March 17, the night of the raid, and left for the U.S. shortly afterward.
Sometime after his visit to the police station, three men who appeared to be carrying security passes entered the building and assaulted and tied up a police officer in an office belonging to the Special Branch, the intelligence wing of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
The burglars took documents referring to a large number of officers in Special Branch, leading to the British spending millions of dollars rehousing policemen.
There were initial suspicions that a rival intelligence agency could have been involved in the raid in order to discredit the Special Branch, but police later said they believed the IRA was behind the operation.
The blaming of the IRA and allegations of a Provo spy ring inside the British government helped break down the North’s power-sharing government last October.
In New York, Zaitschek said that he was innocent in the affair but charged that he was being punished anyway because he was not being permitted to speak with his 4-old-son, Pearse, over the phone.
“The findings of this report are absolutely inconsequential and irrelevant to me,” he said Tuesday. “They are going to say what they’re going to say, but I had absolutely nothing to do with Castlereagh.
“Sixteen months later they have yet to produce hard evidence because it doesn’t exist. There is no evidence, just speculation.
“All I’m asking is that they produce the evidence or get out of the way of my relationship with my 4-year-old son. The Police Service of Northern Ireland is prohibiting a 4-year-old boy the human right of having contact with his father.” Before returning to the U.S. from Belfast, Zaitschek shared custody of his son with his estranged wife. But since his return, Zaitschek, who is Irish American on his mother’s side, has been denied even telephone contact with the boy, who was named after 1916 leader Padraic Pearse.
Meanwhile, in response to inquiries, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Belfast has confined its comments on a possible extradition case against Zaitschek to saying that it was “still under active consideration.”
Ray O’Hanlon contributed to this report.

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