A Northern Ireland teenager charged with the dissident IRA killing of a policeman had an assault rifle and 26 rounds of ammunition, a detective testified Tuesday, and police in the province said they were charging a second person with participating in the murder.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a recorded statement that they were charging a 37-year-old man with murder and possessing a firearm, making him the second person charged since two deadly gun attacks by Irish Republican Army dissidents rocked the country's peace process.
The first person arrested, a 17-year-old, appeared in court earlier Tuesday. The boy didn't speak during the brief hearing at Lisburn Magistrates Court southwest of Belfast.
His lawyer, Paddy Moriarty, said his client intended to plead not guilty to all four charges against him: murder, possessing an assault rifle and ammunition, collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists, and membership in an outlawed splinter group called the Continuity IRA.
'He refused to speak'
A policeman who is part of the team of detectives questioning all of the suspects, Detective Inspector John Caldwell, testified that detectives had interviewed the defendant more than 15 times but elicited no response, just silent stares at the walls and ceiling.
"He refused to speak throughout the interviews," Caldwell said.
Typically, IRA anti-interrogation training emphasizes that members under interrogation should not engage in even friendly chitchat with detectives, to avoid the risk of providing damaging information by accident.
The judge, Magistrate Rosie Watters, ordered the defendant to be held without bail pending his next court appearance April 1.
Police did not immediately identify the 37-year-old, and authorities have also declined to publicly identify the accused boy. British criminal courts usually conceal the names of defendants if they are aged under 18.
First policeman killed since 1998
Both were arrested March 10 in a working-class Catholic district of Craigavon, a day after a policeman, 48-year-old Stephen Carroll, was shot fatally through the back of the head after responding to an emergency call in the religiously divided town. He was the first policeman killed in Northern Ireland since 1998, the year of the landmark peace accord between the territory's British Protestant majority and Irish Catholic minority.
The killing was part of a surge in violence by Irish Republican Army dissidents trying to unravel the peace process. Eight other people remain in custody over the killing of the policeman and a March 7 gun attack outside a British Army base that killed two off-duty, unarmed soldiers — the first troops killed in Northern Ireland since the IRA's 1997 cease-fire.
Police said the 37-year-old is due in court Wednesday.