“there are political talks between the British and German side on how to deal with this thing.”

Germany may have been taking the lead in seeking the extradition of Roisin McAliskey but, as the Sunday Times reports [courtesy of Newshound – Ed], when it comes to certain cases political interference in the judicial system is never far away..

“I expect there is going to be a hearing on Wednesday,” the German embassy in London said. “The courts have to decide how to react to the German request and, meanwhile, there are political talks between the British and German side on how to deal with this thing.”

The embassy added: “We are in this awkward dilemma of having to follow up on a criminal act based on German criminal law and acknowledging the political aspect of this case. That is why we want to play along and that is why we said, ‘Yes, of course we can set her free on bail’.”

It looks like it won’t be one of the serial collapses suggested previously.. but it’s not far from it.

A couple of points to note though.

One is the implication of the British government’s stated position that “Closure on the past cannot be one-sided”, as Mick spelt out here

The other is the Policing Oversight Commissioner Al Hutchison’s comments in his final report.

The dilemma is this: Is there going to be a continual debilitating drip-feed of speculation, inquires and investigations into past police practice, or is the majority of the Northern Ireland society willing to move on, in some yet-to-be-defined manner, and regard the Police Service of Northern Ireland as a new organisation that has itself moved on and demonstrated that it has learned from the past? It is a serious question and deserves serious reflection.

I have not previously publicly discussed this issue, simply because it is so emotive and almost defies rational discussion. Who can argue against a search for truth and justice after losing loved ones because of alleged security forces collusion? Who can argue against a search for truth and justice for the thousands of victims and their families, from many communities? As noted recently by the Police Service Superintendents Association, there should not be a hierarchy of victims. This includes the 302 police officers who lost their lives, and their surviving families. How can they be excluded from a search for truth and justice?

I am raising the issue of ‘policing the past’ from the singular perspective of policing the future of Northern Ireland. I do believe that the Northern Ireland society somehow has to find the proper
architecture to deal with the past, and learn from it.

And, as I’ve noted before, “Delay has its own heavy price. The poison accumulates in the system.”

, , ,

  • Brian Boru

    Supposedly – at least from what I heard when this issue came up around 10 yrs ago and was being covered by some current affairs programme (Newsnight? Prime Time?), the appearance of Roisin McAliskey did not match the witness testimony – which made a lot of people wonder if this was a stitch-up.

  • No doubt there will be an immediate appeal by Sinn Fein to the European Parliament to call for an end to German securocrats and political policing.

  • Gerry Kelly

    Bernadettte McAlliskey was veyr bitter about the Adams sellout. Payback time?

  • lib2016

    ‘Payback time?’

    Nah! Just a new conservative administration taking a hard line. Apparently they are also chasing old Red Brigade survivors from the ’70s. No doubt the authorities in Germany find that different sections of the security services interpret their instructions differently, just as the British ones seem to have different agentas.

  • curious

    ‘Bernadettte McAlliskey was veyr bitter about the Adams sellout. Payback time?’

    On 12 May 2007 Bernadette Devlin McAliskey was guest speaker at éirígí’s first Annual James Connolly commemoration in Arbour Hill, Dublin. I wonder what she thinks of the recent election results for SF?

  • Aquifer

    Given peace we forgive a lot, but the question then arises: Does indulging these fractions invite more armed propaganda from them? Lets face it, terrorism gets them a TV audience, even when they would have trouble gathering a few hundred votes?

    And do we then distinguish punishments for white terrorism from those for the brown Al-Quada sort?

  • eh?

    ‘Does indulging these fractions invite more armed propaganda from them?’
    ??????????
    You do the Maths, mate!

  • BogExile

    ‘…No doubt the authorities in Germany find that different sections of the security services interpret their instructions differently, just as the British ones seem to have different agentas. ‘

    Oh absolutely. There could be no question of them pursuing criminal terrorists out of the need to see justice done. I realise that’s a somewhat old fashioned moral perspective and one yet to cvatch on in the Republican community.

  • Pete Baker

    Several commenters seem to be missing the significance of the political interference.

    One point it raises was highlighted in this Guardian report

    An EU warrant can only be granted or refused by the courts. No UK government department or prosecuting authority has the power to interfere, according to the attorney general’s office in London.

    A spokesman for the German embassy said: “Under criminal law we are obliged to follow up on this.”

  • Pete:

    [i]”An EU warrant can only be granted or refused by the courts. No UK government department or prosecuting authority has the power to interfere, according to the attorney general’s office in London.”[/i]

    When the warrant was served some 10 years ago, I believe the warrant was denied because of Roisin’s poor health at the time. I don’t recall a court hearing — and I followed the case quite closely at the time — but the German Ministry of Justice did invoke another clause of the treaty and asked that Ms. McAliskey be prosected under British law. The Crown Prosecution Service did take on the case for prosecution and, I believe, received the evidence from the Germans. In a remarkably short time, they reviewed the material and announced that the evidence simply did not support prosecution, much less guilt. IIRC, they were a little less polite than that and simply announced that there was no case.

    The evidence always seemed a bit thin to the point of meaningless to me and the identification of Ms. McAliskey by a German innkeeper actually blew up on a TV show when the innkeeper was shown a picture of Ms. McAliskey and promptly replied that this woman was NOT the woman he was asked to identify. Embarassing, to say the least. The evidence was further compromised when employment records clearly showed that Ms. McAliskey was at work in Coalisland when, according to the German evidence, she was in Germany. Likewise, witnesses swore that she was at a dance in Coalisland at a time when the German evidence “proved” she was in Germany.

    The German prosecutor kept trying until, finally, the Ministry of Justice ordered him to stop.

    Seems to me that the Germans didn’t have a case then and, I supect, they don’t have a case now.

    [i]A spokesman for the German embassy said: “Under criminal law we are obliged to follow up on this.”[/i]

    Sounds like the usual bureaucratic excuse for stupidity to me or, as lib2016 says “a new conservative administration taking a hard line”.

  • Pete Baker

    Bob

    I know that the initial SF statements on this referred to a ten-year old warrant. But they were wrong.

    That was an extradition request. And it was refused in 1998, in the end, by a political decision by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw.

    What we’re dealing with here is a European Arrest Warrant, which only came into force in 1 January 2004.

    The warrant against Roisin McAliskey was issued in October 2006.

    It’s worth looking at why the EAW was brought into existence

    No political involvement: In extradition procedures, the final decision on whether to surrender the person or not, is a political decision. The EAW procedure abolished the political stage of extradition. This means that the execution of these warrants is simply a judicial process under the supervision of the national judicial authority which is, inter alia, responsible for ensuring the respect of fundamental rights.

  • Thanks for clearing up the matter, Pete. Seems to me that British law is similar to US law in that any request for extradition or arrest(is there any real difference?) must be approved by a court of the country of residence of the accused –or whatever.

    So, it seems to me that the Germans will have to present their evidence supporting arrest before a British court. If the evidence is the same as that presented to the Crown Prosecution Service, it would seem that the court would void the arrest warrant. Of course, that presumes the CPS did not allow political considerations to drive its review and action some 10 years ago. Seems to me that if the evidence was not sufficient to institute prosecution 10 years ago, it’s not sufficient to support arrest today.

    It appears that the Germans will have to present their evidence in public in a British court to be judged under British law to test whether or not there is enough to support arrest. Hmmmmm . . . .
    This could be interesting and, very possibly, very embarassing for the Germans.

  • Pete Baker

    Bob

    If you’re going to thank me for “clearing up the matter” it would probably be wise to pay attention to the detail.

    Notably, the CPS did not intervene in 1998 in the manner you claim. It was, as I’ve already indicated, a political decision – although Jack Straw cited her medical condition at the time as his reasons.

    It was the British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, who intervened while Roisin McAliskey was on £100,000 bail, at a hospital, following a court ruling that she should be extradited.

    The European Arrest Warrant was specifically designed to prevent political considerations interferring in such cases.

    The BBC report here, and linked in the previous post, should clear up the matter.

    Here’s a quick clip from the report

    The Irish Foreign Minister, David Andrews, raised her plight with the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam.

    Mr Andrews said the decision was “in the wider interests of peace” and would “give heart” to those working for a settlement.

  • [i]”Notably, the CPS did not intervene in 1998 in the manner you claim. It was, as I’ve already indicated, a political decision – although Jack Straw cited her medical condition at the time as his reasons.”[/i]

    Sorry, Pete, but I suggest that YOU should check out the details. After Straw refused the extradition on grounds of health, the German prosecutor invoked another clause of the treaty in force at the time, i.e. that if the extradition was denied — as it was –, then the accused must be tried under British law. At that point, the CPS had to decide whether or not to proceed with the case in a British court. The CPS decided not to proceed with the statment that there was “no case”.

    I did NOT say that the CPS intervened before Straw’s decision. I think I said quite clearly that the CPS intervention came AFTER Straw’s decision and at the demand of the German prosecutor who invoked the second clause of the treaty.

  • Pete Baker

    Bob

    After Jack Straw took his political decision in 1998, the CPS “in accordance with this country’s obligations under Article 7 of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, has considered whether to prosecute Roisin McAliskey in this country for the offences allegedly committed in Germany in relation to the Osnabruk bombing of 28 June 1996.”

    And we have the actual detail in this written answer to a question asked by Paul Goggins, NIO Minister, in the House of Commons on the 18 July 2000, some two years after Jack Straw’s decision.

    Mr. Goggins: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement concerning the possible prosecution of Roisin McAliskey.

    The Solicitor-General: Further to the statement of the Home Secretary on 10 March 1998, Official Report, column 133W, that he would not order the extradition of Roisin McAliskey to Germany, the Crown Prosecution Service, in accordance with this country’s obligations under Article 7 of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, has considered whether to prosecute Roisin McAliskey in this country for the offences allegedly committed in Germany in relation to the Osnabruk bombing of 28 June 1996.

    The test applied by the Crown Prosecution Service is the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors that applies to all prosecution will be commenced or proceeded with only if there is sufficient evidence to afford a realistic prospect of conviction and that prosecution is in the public interest.

    The Crown Prosecution Service, having taken the advice of Senior Treasury Counsel, has concluded that there is not a realistic prospect of convicting Miss McAliskey for any offence arising out of the Osnabruk bombing. It has reached that conclusion having taken into account the available evidence and the likely result of any argument that may be put forward by Miss McAliskey that to prosecute her now would be an abuse of process.

    The Law Officers have been consulted and we agree with the conclusion reached by the Crown Prosecution Service.

    It is not usual for the Law Officers to make announcements concerning consideration of individual cases. In this instance, the Home Secretary, in a written reply, 20 March 1998, Official Report, column 742W, said that this matter would be considered for prosecution in the United Kingdom. It is right that the House should be informed of the outcome of those considerations.

    Whether you interpret that as just rubber-stamping Jack Straw’s decsion is up to you, I would argue it was.

    But this is a new European Arrest Warrant in which political interference is supposed to have been dispensed with – hence the focus on the “political talks” reference from the German Embassy.

  • Briso

    Posted by Pete Baker on Jun 05, 2007 @ 11:01 AM

    The Crown Prosecution Service, having taken the advice of Senior Treasury Counsel, has concluded that there is not a realistic prospect of convicting Miss McAliskey for any offence arising out of the Osnabruk bombing. It has reached that conclusion having taken into account the available evidence and the likely result of any argument that may be put forward by Miss McAliskey that to prosecute her now would be an abuse of process.

    Whether you interpret that as just rubber-stamping Jack Straw’s decsion is up to you, I would argue it was.

    How can you argue that? Jack Straw pulled the extradition on the grounds she was ill and that it wouldn’t be a good idea. The CPS judged there was no prospect of conviction under British Law.

  • And the Law Officers agreed with the CPS decision.

  • Isn’t this an example of political policing?