‘An opportunistic conviction’?

There was a surprisingly sudden conclusion to an oft delayed court case lasting nearly two years last week.

Members of éirígí who had been facing charges over their protests against the Iraq war and Tony Blair when he came to welcome in the latest Stormont regime finally saw a end to a trial that has lasted close to two years, has been subject to over 10 adjournments and multiple reductions in charges.

On the only day that one of the defendants, Dominic McGlinchey, didn’t attend the court (he claims from mixing up the dates), prosecution and judiciary suddenly found their feet. The charges against the two that did attend were dismissed and seemingly as a result of McGlinchey’s non-attendance he was found guilty of the same charges on what seems to be the same evidence and a bench warrant has now been issued for his arrest. The delays afforded to the PSNI, CPS etc throughout the trial for excuses ranging from the flu to being on a training course on numerous trial dates were not extended to one defendant on this single occasion…..

éirígí’s own coverage explains this odd sequence better than I could [and by god it is odd – Ed (not Pete)]

  • USA

    These young men have probably got a point. On face value at least, it all seems very badly handled by the Northern judicial system, the prosecutors, PSNI etc.
    To wait two years is just way too long, to have charges changed numerous times is at best imcompetent, at worst cynical and should not be permissable.
    Not affording the defence the same leniancy afforded to the PSNI is also unacceptable. This conviction seems unsafe. Yes i’m just a layman with no legal training, but bad law makes for unhappy citizens – and we all know where that leads.
    Seems the system just made the situation worse and gave Eirigi a “cause celebre”.
    Erirgi are certainly maintaining their profile.

    While I greatly admire Connolly I feel he was a man for his time and I could not buy into their “Socialist Republic” platform in the 21st century.

  • Mark McGregor

    USA,

    You ask the right questions imnsho. I, of course ask them from a postion of natural bias towards any socialist party challenging the establishment.

    However, this case regardless of views on the protestors cause or chosen legal group they belong to seems to indicate a bias within the legal system and a story ignored by a still ‘peace proccesing’ MSM.

    Delay the trial for years over a cop’s sniffle and convict the moment one of the defendents doesn’t show….aye.

  • Mark McGregor

    Another thing I think important to note is, only the eirigi protestors (the republicans)ever faced the courts while it’s pretty clear from numerous photos and reports of the protest that anarchists and others were involved but they never saw a charge from the PSNI nevermind a court case lasting years.

  • Odd to say the least

    The Irish News report on this case last week showed how odd this whole case was. One of the defendants who was cleared had been accused of and identified as the person who kicked a policeman until video evidence showed that the while the policeman was indeed kicked, it was another policeman who actually kicked him. Makes one wonder who that policeman had actually been aiming his boot at!!

  • USA

    Yes, I find the PSNI work in this matter to be very sloppy. Claims of officers being kicked, officers with broken noses, yet no evidence and constantly changing charges. When defendants change their stories this many times it is an indication that they are not telling the truth. I think the same standard should be applied to the PSNI and prosecution services.
    And to then leave a case running for two years, requiring people to sign into police stations hours from their home? This is not at all acceptable practice from the police department.
    Some co-operation with the Guards could at least have permitted some of the defendants to sign in closer to home.
    You cannot leave charges hanging over a citizen for years like this, surely there is some legal requirement to bring a case forward in a timely fashion?
    This is supposed to be a new beginning for policing. So these old practices / imcompetencies must be ended so that everyone feels invested in a judicial process that is fair and just.
    Regardless of how some may feel towards these young men, it seems they may not have been treated appropriately by the courts.

  • dunreavynomore

    USA
    There are prisoners locked up in Maghaberry for over 2 years awaiting trial never mind out on bail but very few give a damn about them. The system here is as rotten as it ever was and the PSNI are not simply ‘sloppy’ but have their own agenda just as the RUC had.This state post GFA is little different than before apart from having ‘republicans’ in the s.f. mode backing it up.

  • USA

    dunreavynomore,

    To be incarcerated for two years without trial is grounds for human rights abuse.
    It makes me think of Guantanamo Bay where the Bush administration did so much damage to US standing abroad.

  • anne warren

    From the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the European Union

    Please note the second paragraph.

    TITLE VI
    JUSTICE
    Article 47

    Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial
    Everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by the law of the Union are violated has the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal in compliance with the conditions laid down in this Article.

    Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law.

    Everyone shall have the possibility of being advised,
    defended and represented.
    Legal aid shall be made available to those who lack sufficient resources in so far as such aid is necessary
    to ensure effective access to justice.

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:303:0001:0016:EN:PDF

  • Comrade Stalin

    USA,

    While I greatly admire Connolly I feel he was a man for his time and I could not buy into their “Socialist Republic” platform in the 21st century.

    You and pretty much everyone else who lives on the island, except a telephone box full of crackpots and die-hards.

    And to then leave a case running for two years, requiring people to sign into police stations hours from their home? This is not at all acceptable practice from the police department.

    The republicans will have had a perfect opportunity to embarass the police and claim compensation by complaining to the Ombudsman. I wonder why they don’t see to have taken it.

  • A Legitimate Target

    Makes one wonder who that policeman had actually been aiming his boot at!!