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Brother-in-law of top Sinn Fein politician accused of kidnapping couple

A brother-in-law of Martin McGuinness, supposed to oversee a new power-sharing government for Northern Ireland, was accused of kidnapping, imprisoning and battering a couple in an IRA-style operation.

Marvin Canning, 45, gave a clenched-fist salute to cheering supporters outside Londonderry Magistrates Court shortly before he was arraigned on seven criminal counts connected to Monday's abduction of a couple in the Irish Republic.

McGuinness immediately sought to distance himself from his relative _ and to emphasize Sinn Fein's newfound commitment to uphold law and order in this British territory.

"Whoever carried out this attack, I absolutely and unequivocally condemn it. Such attacks have no place in our society," McGuinness said in a prepared statement. "Those responsible must be made accountable through the courts."

The abducted 42-year-old man, Brendan Cranston, was shot through both legs and beaten, while his 38-year-old partner, Linda Doherty, also was assaulted.

Police have declined to specify any motive for the crime, which involved a four-member gang taking the couple from their home in Mullingar, west of Dublin, 140 miles (220 kilometers) to the hard-line Catholic district of Creggan in Londonderry, Northern Ireland's second-largest city. The couple were dumped on a Creggan street at about 5 a.m. (0400gmt) Tuesday and discovered by paramedics.

Police charged Canning with two counts each of kidnapping, imprisoning and causing grievous bodily harm to both victims, and one count of possessing a handgun with intent. Police were continuing Thursday to interrogate another suspect.

Canning's defense attorney, Paddy McDermott, said his client denied involvement. Police said the main evidence involved the victims' identification of their attackers.

Canning was jailed without bail pending his next court appearance May 24.

McGuinness, a veteran Irish Republican Army commander from Londonderry, is Sinn Fein's choice to become "deputy first minister" in a Catholic-Protestant administration due to be formed May 8 in Belfast. He would hold the same government powers as "first minister" designate Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionists, the major Protestant party.

The outlawed IRA for decades shot its criminal opponents and other rivals through the legs or arms, a practice designed to keep control of Catholic areas without resorting to lethal force.

The IRA stopped so-called "punishment" shootings as part of its historic 2005 decisions to disarm and renounce the right to armed insurrection. In January, Sinn Fein members voted to recognize the legitimacy of Northern Ireland's police force.

The IRA killed 1,775 people and wounded more than 20,000 others from 1970 to 1997 in hopes of forcing Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and into the Irish Republic.

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