Spanish authorities on October 23 announced the arrest of Irish criminal John Gilligan during a raid in Alicante, and said a gun seized in the search was the “same make and model” as that used in the 1996 murder of an Irish journalist.
Gilligan, 68, is a well-known crime figure in Ireland, having been tried and acquitted in the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, who had reported on his drug empire. Guerin had previously been threatened and shot in response to her reporting on criminals, and was awarded a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) International Press Freedom Award for her reporting in 1995, a year before she was killed.
A court in 2002 acquitted Gilligan in the killing of Guerin, but noted there remained “grave suspicions against him regarding the murder,” RTE News reported. Gilligan was convicted, however, of importing cannabis resin, a crime for which he was handed a 28-year prison sentence. He was released in 2013, after serving 17 years behind bars.
According to Spain’s National Police, who carried out the October 23 raid on Gilligan, the Irishman had been leading a group “dedicated to the postal shipment” of illegal drugs to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He was among six people arrested during raids in Alicante, police said.
Footage of the raid shows armed officers entering a residence and handcuffing Gilligan, and the discovery of a Colt Python revolver buried in a garden. Spanish authorities said it was the same model of gun used to kill Guerin, and that they were working with Irish police to investigate possible links to the murder.
A biographical film about Guerin, directed by Joel Schumacher, was released in 2003. Cate Blanchett played the role of Guerin, a performance that earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture. Credit: Policía Nacional via Storyful