Freed Prisoner Embarrassment For Minister

A prisoner has been released from custody in error - and the PSNI and their colleagues in the Irish Republic are still searching for the alleged rapist - freed from Maghaberry prison by mistake.

Devidas Paliutis, 27, originally from Lithuania, appeared at Newry Magistrates Court, via video link from the prison, on Wednesday and the Prison Service was advised that the holding charges were withdrawn from the Magistrates' Court.

"However, they failed to act on the notification that other charges had been substituted, for which he was returned for trial to the Crown Court, and erroneously released Mr Paliutis," the Prison Service said in a statement.

The error was discovered on Thursday, but prison authorities delayed publicising the mistake for 24 hours in the hope he could be picked up - but to no avail.

Justice Minister David Ford (pictured) has ordered an immediate and full inquiry into the circumstances that led to this release. He will now invite the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice to review the findings.

The PSNI have described him as having brown eyes, brown hair, of medium build, with a left ear piercing, a vaccination mark on his upper left arm and scars on both knees and the forehead.

A satement said that the Police Service of Northern Ireland, An Garda Siochána and Interpol have been advised and are co-ordinating efforts to have Mr Paliutis returned to custody. Steps are being taken to safeguard the interests of the victim of the alleged crime.


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