Retrial of Gerard Mackin collapses

The BBC reports that the prosecution counsel in the retrial of Gerard Mackin for the murder of 36-year-old Edward Burns, who was shot dead in west Belfast in March 2007, has told the Special Criminal Court in Dublin that the state would not be proceeding with the charges.

The retrial was ordered in July 2010 when the Appeal Court in Dublin ruled that evidence taken in a Belfast court, including that of the chief prosecution witness, Mr Damien O’Neill, had not been properly proved at the Special Criminal Court.

On Tuesday, at a hearing in Belfast High Court, Mr O’Neill refused to testify and told judge Ronald Weatherup and three judges of Dublin’s Special Criminal Court that, “I have been threatened that if I give evidence I will be shot dead.”  From the BBC report

Mr O’ Neill, who was arrested in Belfast on Monday night after a warrant was issued by Mr Justice Weatherup, said he had been visited twice in recent weeks by “men from the republican movement.”

He continually refused to answer questions put to him by prosecuting counsel Mr Tom O’Connell and by Mr Justice Weatherup.

The judge warned Mr O’ Neill that he was liable for prosecution for contempt of court if he refused to answer questions, but he replied: “My life’s at stake.”

The judge discharged Mr O’Neill after he refused a prosecution application to have a statement made by Mr O’ Neill to the PSNI in 2007 admitted in evidence.