“the first time that the judge could direct that such hearings be heard ‘otherwise than in public”‘”

Although the seven people arrested in Ireland in connection with an alleged plot to kill Swedish cartoonist, Lars Vilks, had their detention in custody extended earlier this week, RTÉ reports that two of them have now been released from custody. Meanwhile, an American woman, Colleen R. LaRose, whose possible movements in Ireland in September last year are being investigated, has been “indicted in plot to recruit violent jihadist fighters and to commit murder overseas”. The Irish Times notes that the case has seen the first use of “section 29 21 of the 2009 Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act”.

The exclusion of the media from the hearings was the first time a new law allowing for the hearing to be in private was invoked in a high-profile case. An application that the hearing into the prolonging of the detention be heard in private was made by An Garda Síochána and the judge granted this application. It was made under section [29 21] of the 2009 Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act, which provides for the extension of the length of time of detention to allow for further investigation.

This section of the Act, passed amidst controversy last year, provided for the first time that the judge could direct that such hearings be heard “otherwise than in public”. It also provides for the exclusion of all except “officers of the court, persons directly concerned in the proceedings, bona fide representatives of the press and such other persons as the court may permit to remain”. The judge can also direct that particular evidence be given in the absence of “every person, including the person to whom the application relates and any legal representative”, if the judge considers the nature of the evidence could prejudice the investigation.

Is there a clue in an earlier Irish Times report?

Detectives in Ireland have been working on the case since late last year with their counterparts in the US and Europe, including Sweden. Those arrested yesterday are from Algeria, Croatia, Palestine, Libya and the US. They are aged in their mid-20s to late-40s. The Irish Times understands the suspects were taken into custody on the basis of information supplied to the Garda by the FBI that came to light after surveillance of the suspects’ communications, including e-mails.

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  • Munsterview

    “……..This section of the Act, passed amidst controversy last year, provided for the first time that the judge could direct that such hearings be heard “otherwise than in public”. It also provides for the exclusion of all except “officers of the court, persons directly concerned in the proceedings, bona fide representatives of the press and such other persons as the court may permit to remain”.

    While the passing of this act gave yet another unacceptable and unaccountable tranch or power to the State, the ‘ behind closed doors’ attitude is perfectly in accordance with the natural instincts of those charged with the administration of justice, be they Judges, Court Officials, Chief State Solicitors Office and Garda Headquarters and most of the Gardai as a whole.

    There is a Statute Law procedure regarding Solicitors ‘ in trouble ‘ with the Law Society regarding malpractice. As recent cases of theft of clients funds, double and multiple loans raises on the same sets of deeds etc. have shown the public has both a right to know of these people and their activities, and, much more important, what sanctions they are subjected to when held accountable.

    Only those intimate with High Court activity can see justice being done in most of these instances, the occasional ‘outed bottom of the food chain’ person is occasionally thrown to the wolfs with the press tipped off. However the usual is a court held after 4.pm. when most courts are about or have already risen.

    The court is held in a tucked away seldom used court and if a party noticing an unusual pattern of activity trail these people to the actual court sitting and begin taking notes, then the court is quickly adjourned on the application of the Solicitor’s representatives and with the ready consent of the Law Society and the State for re entry, not at a fixed date but on the application of either party! This could be within the hour before another available judge, a few days or a few weeks. The legal musical chairs involved with the various courts is designed to frustrate the most determined of the press or public.

    By taking such steps as those outlined to ensure that such court hearings are De Facto private and that only the Old Boy (and girl) legals are present, all is transacted safely out reach of the press pages. On one such occasion where a lay person slipped in and began to take notes unnoticed, the Presiding Judge actually brought it to the notice of the parties by asking ” Should these matters be opened in the presence of third parties ” Cue….. look around you clowns and get this adjourned fast before we are all reading about it in ‘ The Phoenix’ Needless to say it was!

    These behind closed doors moves are doing no more than formalizing arrangements that are day and daily are in train to remove the administration of justice from view, never mind accountability! Do our politicians care ? In the infamious words of Gogarty..'” Do they F***!