Legal aid for Basque terrorist is questioned
Lawyers for a convicted Basque killer believed to have fled Northern Ireland were yesterday told to explain why his case merits continuing legal aid.
Senior judges issued the direction in the case of Jose Ignacio de Juana Chaos, who was to appeal against an order for his extradition to Spain.
Nothing has been heard from the 55-year-old since the ruling made against him in a Belfast court 12 months ago.
De Juana was jailed for his part in an ETA campaign of 25 murders.
Spanish authorities were granted an order for his extradition last March to face a new charge of glorifying terrorism.
The Recorder for Belfast rejected claims that he would not receive a fair trial and may face harsher punishment for his political beliefs.
But de Juana, who had been bailed to live with his wife in west Belfast while fighting the proceedings, has not been seen in Northern Ireland since.
During a hearing yesterday at the Court of Appeal to check the status of the case, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan told de Juana's barrister: “One of the issues troubling us is whether it's desirable, in the interests of justice, to continue to have legal aid in light of the fact your client may well be out of the jurisdiction and doesn't appear to be taking part in the appeal.”
The barrister was instructed that arguments should be put forward on whether the challenge should be allowed to proceed in de Juana's absence.
His barrister Sean Devine pointed out that grounds of appeal had been filed and asked for more time to consider the case.
Sir Declan responded: “We direct that the appellant should submit written arguments on why the legal aid should continue.”