Judges end McAliskey stalemate

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The Independent Online
The High Court yesterday overturned a magistrate's refusal to make an extradition order against the IRA suspect Roisin McAliskey because she is too ill to attend court in person.

Lord Bingham, the Lord Chief Justice, sitting with Mr Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Jowitt, ruled that Nicholas Evans, the Bow Street magistrate, did have power to order her committal to await a decision of the Home Secretary for her removal to Germany.

Ms McAliskey, 25, who is wanted in connection with a mortar-bomb attack on a British Army barracks in Osnabruck in summer 1996, is suffering from post-natal depression and is in a secure mother-and-baby unit at a London hospital.

Yesterday's ruling ends an awkward stalemate. Both Ms McAliskey's legal team and lawyers representing the German government jointly challenged the magistrate's refusal to make the order on the grounds that he lacked jurisdiction to do so in her absence.

Supporters of Ms McAliskey, daughter of the former nationalist MP Bernadette McAliskey, say she is innocent and want the magistrate to make the committal order, which will then enable them to bring a High Court challenge to her extradition and to seek a writ of habeas corpus freeing her from custody.

Her solicitor, Gareth Peirce, welcomed the court's decision, saying: "It will help us with our application for habeas corpus. Roisin is still very, very ill in hospital."