Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Bomber's derisory sentence an insult

The bereaved and survivors of the Troubles must wonder if their pain and trauma counts for anything in the wider scheme of things. They have been promised many things - including even a modicum of justice - but somehow all that seems to be delivered to the vast majority of them is heartache and hurt.

Take the case of Jim Corry reported in this newspaper today. He was convicted of an IRA mortar bomb attack on a British Army base in Germany in 1996 and jailed in October - for a mere four days.

That is a sentence which beggars belief. While no one was injured in the attack, one of the three 180lbs mortars fired exploded inside the base, home to 150 soldiers. It was good fortune that death or injury did not occur.

At the time the IRA had broken its own ceasefire to put pressure on the UK Government to seal a deal under the peace process.

What makes this sentence so astonishing is that another member of the bomb team spent 27 months in jail for his part in the attack.

Under a deal hammered out as part of the Good Friday Agreement, those convicted of historic terrorist offences cannot serve more than two years in jail. That was a bitter blow for bereaved families and survivors to swallow, but they did so for the greater good in the hope that the horror of the past could be consigned to history and that pledges to give them some justice and/or closure would be honoured.

But that hope seems more and more misplaced as the political impasse continues at Stormont, amid suggestions that an amnesty of sorts could be introduced, effectively drawing a line under the past.

The Corry case demonstrates the lack of transparency that surrounds so much of the effort to deal with the toxic legacy of the past.

His quick release from prison appears to have caught most people on the hop and there is no immediate indication on why he was treated so leniently.

It barely seems worth the trouble and expense of prosecuting him for such a derisory sentence. Rather than looking like justice, the case just insults and further disheartens those seeking legal redress.

The very least that needs to be done now is for the German authorities to explain fully why they took the decision to release Corry with such indecent haste.

That would enable people to make a more informed judgment and, perhaps, restore some faith in the legal system.

Belfast Telegraph

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