Court commits McAliskey for extradition

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The Independent Online
The IRA terrorist suspect Roisin McAliskey was yesterday committed for extradition to Germany to face bombing charges.

Nicholas Evans, stipendiary magistrate sitting at Bow Street Court in central London, gave the go-ahead.

Her lawyers said the decision will clear the way for Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, to decide on extensive legal arguments urging him to stop the extradition.

Miss McAliskey, 26, is wanted by German authorities as an alleged member of an IRA unit that mortar-bombed a British Army barracks in Osnabruck in June 1996.

During a 20-minute hearing, Mr Evans told the court: "In the particular circumstances of this case, bearing in mind McAliskey's state of health, I now commit her on her absence to await the decision of the Secretary of State about her extradition to Germany."

Her supporters, many of whom were outside court waving banners protesting her innocence, claim that since her arrest 14 months ago, police and prosecutors have yet to establish her whereabouts at the time of the bombing.

They argue that there is a "mass" of documentary and eye-witness evidence confirming her presence in Northern Ireland on the dates when the woman sought by the police was sighted in Germany.

McAliskey, who denies any involvement in the mortar attack, was arrested at her home in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, in November 1996 when pregnant, and was detained as a high-risk prisoner in Holloway and Belmarsh Prisons in London. Last May, three days before her baby was born, she was released on bail by a High Court Judge and has been staying at a mother-and-baby unit at the Maudsley Hospital, south London, where she is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yesterday's bail was granted on the condition that she resides 24 hours a day in a hospital mother-and-baby unit; that a surety of pounds 100,000 is taken; that a pounds 95,000 security is deposited with solicitors; and that she agrees to consent to all future medical and psychiatric reports.

Included in the five sureties totalling pounds 100,000 was pounds 30,000 given by the writer and broadcaster Jeremy Hardy. Lin Soloman, a human rights campaigner, also provided a surety of pounds 30,000 in court.

Speaking outside court, Mr Hardy said he was not particularly optimistic about Mr Straw's forthcoming decision."We fear that the Government is so desperate to please loyalists that they will use Roisin as a sacrifice. I am not optimistic, but Mr Straw has evidence that Roisin is unwell and evidence that she is innocent."

Afterwards, Miss McAliskey's mother, the former mid-Ulster MP Bernadette McAliskey, who was in court, said they were now eagerly awaiting Mr Straw's decision.

"My daughter is innocent," she said. "She is not charged with any offence and I believe we will resolve this matter fairly."

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