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Germans link McAliskey to bomb

By Chris Thornton

German prosecutors say they can prove a daughter of former MP Bernadette McAliskey was in a flat where the IRA built a mortar launcher to bomb a British Army barracks, a Belfast court heard today.

Roisin McAliskey (35), is alleged to have been part of the IRA Active Service Unit that fired three mortars at a barracks in Osnabruck in June 1996.

Long-running German attempts to bring her to trial stepped up today with the opening of an extradition hearing in Belfast - almost a decade after the British Government rejected the first bid to extradite her.

Ms McAliskey was not in court for today's opening, although her mother, the former mid-Ulster MP, watched from the public gallery.

Paul Maguire QC, appearing on behalf of the German authorities, said three mortars, each containing 150lbs of explosives, were fired at Quebec Barracks just after 7pm on June 28 1996, which was during the period the IRA had dropped its ceasefire.

He said 150 people inside the barracks were not hurt although a petrol station and nearby houses were damaged by the two bombs that exploded.

Mr Maguire said German federal prosecutors believe they can link Ms McAliskey to the flat where they say the IRA unit put the mortar launching platform onto a Ford Transit van.

Mr Maguire said the Germans have declared that her fingerprints were found at the flat. They also contend that handwriting evidence also links her to the flat and the landlord, Manfred Schmidt, can place her there.

He said one occupant of the flat has already been successfully prosecuted for the IRA attack.

Five or more people were believed to be in the active service unit and one woman was in the vicinity of the attack who "may or may not have been the defendant".

Mr Maguire said two women were among the occupants of the flat. Germany first requested Ms McAliskey's extradition in 1996, but in March 1998, the then Home Secretary Jack Straw decided to refuse the request on medical grounds. The German government then asked to try Ms McAliskey in Britain, but the Crown Prosecution Services refused in July 2000.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for Ms McAliskey, said the mother-of-two has alibi witnesses who had never been interviewed by the Germans.

He also introduced medical evidence. Mr Fitzgerald said the Crown refused to prosecute Ms McAliskey in Britain seven years ago because the prosecution service believed "there was not a realistic prospect of conviction".

He also argued that it would be "oppressive" to extradite her after the passage of time and the previous British refusal to extradite her or try her in the UK.

The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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