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Suspect in Niall O’Brien death to appear before Greek judiciary

A MAN arrested in connection with the death of Broadford hurler Niall O’Brien, in Greece, is due to appear before a Greek judicial authority Thursday, to hear whether or not charges will be brought against him, writes David Raleigh.

The 20-year-old Irish suspect, who was not known to Mr O’Brien, was arrested by police on the island of Ios, following Mr O’Brien’s death, last Monday.

Mr O’Brien, 22, who was on holiday with a group of 20 friends, died from serious head injuries following an altercation with another man in the town of Chora, police said.

“On 30 August, a 20-year-old Irish citizen was arrested by police in Ios because another Irish citizen, 22, died. He said they fought and he punched him and the other citizen fell on the street, and (he was taken) to the hospital and he died there,” said police spokeswoman.

“He hit his head as he fell on the ground, he was taken to the hospital and he died. The 20-year-old citizen was arrested by police officers and he went to the Public Prosecutor, and then on Thursday he will go to the Judicial Investigator,” she continued.

The arrested man and any other witnesses “will testify” before the judicial investigator “who will decide if (the suspect) will go to jail before his trial or if he will have restrictive (bail) measures imposed or if he will go free.

“It will be decided what will happen on Thursday. It’s not a court, it won’t be a trial.”

The spokeswoman confirmed the suspect and Mr O’Brien “were strangers”, and that the arrested man will remain in custody until a decision on potential charges is made.

“He declared there was a fight and during the fight one man fell on the ground and he died. But charges will be decided from the investigator and prosecutor, so I can’t tell you right now what the investigator will decide,” the spokeswoman said.

Police ordered a “forensic examination” of the scene and an autopsy of Mr O’Brien’s body, as part of their enquiries.

Mr O’Brien was a star hurler with Broadford GAA, in South East Clare, and a member and employee of Castletroy Golf Club in Limerick.

Paying tribute, his GAA club said: “It is with a broken heart that Broadford Hurling Club are in deep mourning at the sad passing of one of our great characters and players, Niall O’Brien.

“Niall, along with his three brothers, has given great service to Broadford Hurling Club, Niall has played all grades with the club, having only lined out for a win with our adult teams as recently as last week.”

A family friend said: “Niall was a brilliant sportsman, he was a serious hurler, he was huge into golf and GAA, soccer, everything really. He was an unassuming lad, and he had recently recovered from a hernia operation and he was thrilled that he had got the go ahead to play golf again.”

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust was liaising with the Mr O’Brien’s family about organising repatriation of his remains for burial, and the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was providing “consular assistance” to his family.

Niall O’Brien is survived by his devastated parents Mike and Anne, and his brothers Cian, Eoin, and Alan.

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