Guerin murder suspect freed from prison

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Media captionJohn Gilligan was released from prison in the Irish Republic on Tuesday

A convicted drug dealer, who was acquitted of the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin, has been released from prison in the Republic of Ireland.

Dublin gang leader, John Gilligan, now 61, spent the past 17 years in prison for drugs offences. He was released from prison on Tuesday.

Ms Guerin, an investigative reporter for the Sunday Independent, was shot six times at point blank range in 1996.

She was targeted in her car at traffic lights by a gunman on a motorbike.

Gilligan was originally given a 28-year sentence in March 2001 for drug offences. The sentence was reduced by eight years on appeal in 2003.

'Organised crime'

While in prison, Gilligan was convicted of other offences including assaulting a prison officer.

Irish police commissioner Martin Callinan said he wished to reassure the public that the force would continue to tackle organised crime.

"Our job is to prevent, and where crimes occur, to investigate, arrest and prosecute offenders and that's what we are committed to do," he said.

John Gilligan spoke to reporters shortly after being released from prison,

In comments recorded by the Irish Mirror, Gilligan said he had nothing to do with the murder of Veronica Guerin and that he did not assault her.

"One of the reasons I didn't get convicted in the Special Criminal Court, when people said I threatened the lady... in them days there was no throwaway phones, they were all bill phones for your landline," Gilligan said.

"The court said, for five days, please produce a bill phone and we will know where these threats came from, if it was roaming, if it was in Ireland or in another jurisdiction."

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