10 Aug 2022

Portlaoise Prison inmate contracted by Kinahan cartel wanted by authorities in Lithuania

Man serving sentence for conspiracy to murder

Portlaoise Prison

Portlaoise Prison

An Estonian hitman, who was jailed for his role in a Kinahan cartel murder plot and who is wanted over the murder of a Lithuanian pop star's lover, will challenge a bid to extradite him in October.

Imre Arakas (62) was jailed by the Special Criminal Court for six years in December 2018 after he admitted to conspiring with others to murder James Gately in Northern Ireland between April 3 and 4, 2017. He is currently serving his sentence in a segregated block in Portlaoise Prison. 

Lithuanian authorities suspect that ex-wrestler Arakas was allegedly part of a three-man gang that conspired to murder a man who had an affair with famous Lithuanian pop star Vita Jakutiene. 

Lithuanian police are seeking the surrender of Arakas, whose a last address in Sopruse, Tallinn, Estonia, 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. There is also another warrant for the sole charge of criminal damage.

Arakas was arrested by gardai in a holding cell at the Criminal Courts of Justice building in Dublin in February 2018, on foot of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Lithuanian authorities. 

However, Arakas was jailed by the non-jury Special Criminal Court for six years in December 2018 after he pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to murder Mr Gately in Northern Ireland between April 3 and 4, 2017. He was contracted by the Kinahan crime gang to assassinate Mr Gately and had boasted to his associates in coded text messages that he would take out his target with "one shot to the head". 

Today Monday, June 15, Ms Aoife O'Leary BL, responding for Arakas, told Mr Justice Paul Burns that additional information from the Lithuanian authorities had been sought and received, that affidavits had been filed in respect of her client and that two other men had now been charged in Lithuania.

Arakas, a former freedom fighter who was previously part of a movement to separate Estonia from the former USSR, was joined by video-link from Portlaoise Prison for the brief hearing.

Mr Justice Paul Burns fixed 9 October for the hearing with the matter in for mention on 20 July to resolve any outstanding matters.

Passing sentence at the Special Criminal Court in 2018, 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 Mr Gately was to be performed. The Estonian separatist told his associates in a text message that he would take out his target with "one shot to the head". The judge said the married father-of-two was "ready, willing and able" in his dedicated role. 

Arakas had travelled to Ireland from Alicante in Spain on April 3, 2017 for the purpose of killing Mr Gately. The foreign national, who is in poor health, has been in custody in Ireland since April 2017. 

Ms O'Leary told the court today (Monday) that her client's sentence is due to expire in October 2029 and that she would be seeking a senior counsel in the case, as it was a "very significant matter of murder, firearms and criminal damage".

Arakas appeared by video-link but expressed a desire to be present in the court for his extradition hearing.

Sworn, written statements are to be submitted by 10 September with the applicant, the State, given two weeks to reply.

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