Albanian trio held over firearm charge

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Three Albanians accused of possessing a firearm allegedly found in a car have been remanded into custody by a court in Enniskillen.

The trio had been stopped and searched by police on the Dublin Road, on the outskirts of the Co Fermanagh town, shortly after lunchtime last Friday.

Enniskillen District Court heard that two of the men had only arrived in Dublin last month, and were supposed to remain within the Republic of Ireland, while their claim for refugee status was assessed.

A detective constable told the court that a “suspected gas-powered handgun” uncovered in the search of their Ssanyong Kyron vehicle, was found hidden underneath a false floor behind the passenger seat in the back of the 4x4.

The detective said the men, aged 21, 22 and 34, were questioned by the PSNI “as best we could”, with the help of a telephone interpreter.

There was no interpreter available when the trio appeared in court, a situation which District Judge Nigel Broderick said was “unsatisfactory, to say the least” and that efforts should have been made to ensure one was present.

As it was, one of the men, 34-year-old Lorenc Dashi, from Dublin Road in Cavan, acted as a translator for his two co-accused, 21-year-old Mariglen Hoxha, and Arlind Rrapaj, 22, both of no fixed abode, Dublin.

All three are charged with having a firearm in suspicious circumstances and possession of an offensive weapon.

Dashi is also accused of obstructing a police officer, driving without a licence and without insurance.

The detective also told the court that immigration authorities in the UK had been made aware of the situation and inquiries were “ongoing”.

Barrister Michael Ward, acting on behalf of Mariglen and Rrapaj, revealed that they travelled from Albania via Kosovo and had arrived in Dublin three weeks ago where they had claimed refugee status. He explained that they were being monitored by the Irish authorities.

Mr Ward said while his clients had been passengers in the vehicle, they denied any knowledge of the firearm uncovered by police. He also told the court the men hadn’t realised that they had crossed the border and were “surprised” that they were in Northern Ireland.

When it was indicated by Mr Ward and solicitor David Buchanan, for Dashi, that the men would not be applying for bail, the district judge remanded them into custody to appear again via prison video link in two weeks.

Mr Broderick said there were “live issues” in the case relating to addresses, immigration status and the charges that the men were facing.