Man allegedly supplied guns to gang involved in murder of Lithuanian pop star’s lover, court hears
10th October 2022
NOTORIOUS INTERNATIONAL HITMAN Imre Arakas is alleged to have acted as a mercenary and supplied guns to an organised gang involved in the murder of a Lithuanian pop star’s lover, the High Court has heard.
Lawyers for Estonian native Arakas, wanted in connection with the murder, say they are opposing his extradition to Lithuania as the authorities there had “changed the narrative” in their description of the charges.
Arakas (64) is wanted for murder but has challenged his surrender on the grounds that no charge had been “formalised” against him.
The State had written to authorities in Lithuania to clarify what exactly Arakas was wanted for in their bid to extradite him over the murder of a male there.
An eyewitness to the murder of the pop star’s lover has said that the hitman, who has also been jailed here for his role in a Kinahan cartel murder plot, was not present at the scene.
Lithuanian authorities allege that Arakas was part of a three-man gang that conspired to murder a man said to have had an affair with pop star Vita Jakutiene. Arakas told gardaí, however, that he was in Spain on the relevant dates.
Arakas, whose last address was in Sopruse, Tallinn, Estonia, is to face charges, which include a count of murder as well as firearms and conspiracy-related charges in relation to the shooting of Deimantas Bugavicius in November 2015.
The ex-wrestler was jailed by the Special Criminal Court for six years in December 2018, after he admitted to conspiring with others to murder James ‘Mago’ Gately in Northern Ireland between 3 and 4 April 2017.
Today at the High Court, Mr Justice Paul Burns was told by Remy Farrell SC, for Arakas, that his client had supplied an alibi to pre-trial investigators in Lithuania stating that he was in Spain at the time of the shooting. Farrell said that there may also be an issue regarding the location of the alleged offences against his client.
Farrell said that the European Arrest Warrant needed to have specific circumstances cited when making an allegation about his client’s involvement.
Mr Justice Burns said that the murder offence was still alleged but it had now been clarified that Arakas was no longer thought to have been the actual shooter at the scene.
Farrell said there had been a “change of narrative” in the warrant, which had to make it clear both where the accused person was at the time of the alleged offence and when it took place.
Responding, Siobhán Ní Chúlacháinn BL, for the State, said that additional information had been received in July of this year regarding the warrant, which said that Arakas was part of an organised group when he was acting with others “for mercenary reasons”. It alleges he was engaged in preparatory actions, including surveillance, supplying weapons and plotting routes for the organisation.
Ní Chúlacháinn said that the warrant alleged that Arakas supplied two nine-millimetre handguns and provided clothes and chemical cleaning substances to others when in the city of Kaunas, Lithuania, before the shooting.
She said that while the factual basis of the allegation may have changed the legal basis had not and that the Lithuanian authorities always intended to prosecute Arakas for his alleged role in the murder.
Counsel said it was “very clear” that the legal nature of the allegation stayed the same.
Mr Justice Burns said he hoped to have a judgement in the case by 7 November.
Arakas, who appeared in the court today, was jailed by the non-jury Special Criminal Court after he pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to murder Gately in Northern Ireland between 3 and 4 April 2017. He was contracted by the Kinahan crime gang to assassinate Gately and had told his associates in coded text messages that he would take out his target with “one shot to the head”.
Passing sentence at the Special Criminal Court, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said Arakas had agreed to the “vital role” of pulling the trigger for financial gain and he was prepared to offer his “own detail” on how the murder of Gately was to be performed.
Arakas had travelled to Ireland from Alicante in Spain on 3 April 2017, for the purpose of killing Gately and has been in custody in Ireland since April 2017.
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