Bomb suspect will not be tried in UK

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The Independent Online

Roisin McAliskey, the Republican activist and suspected bomber, will not be prosecuted in Britain, the Crown Prosecution Service ruled yesterday.

Roisin McAliskey, the Republican activist and suspected bomber, will not be prosecuted in Britain, the Crown Prosecution Service ruled yesterday.

Prosecutors have decided there is insufficient evidence to justify trying Ms McAliskey, 26, for the 1996 attack on the Osnabruck British army barracks in Germany.

The CPS also believes that the length of time that has elapsed since the IRA mortar bomb blast would have allowed Ms McAliskey to have argued successfully that there had been an abuse of process.

Ms McAliskey is still wanted for questioning by German police over the attack, in which several buildings were badly damaged.

They claim the Republican activist, daughter of former MP Bernadette McAliskey, was part of an IRA unit that rented a cottage near the camp.

She was arrested in Northern Ireland in 1996 and spent 16 months in prison in London awaiting extradition.

Ms McAliskey, who was then pregnant with her daughter Loinnir, was first taken to Holloway prison, north London, before being transferred to Belmarsh high-security prison in south London.

She had been undergoing treatment for post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder but in January 1998, after months of argument over her health, a stipendiary magistrate at Bow Street in London formally signed an order for her extradition.

Her supporters made representations to the Home Secretary Jack Straw that he should stop the extradition "in the interests of justice" and in March 1998 he announced he was doing so on the grounds that her extradition would be "unjust or oppressive".

Mr Straw later strongly denied that his decision had been taken on political grounds in order "to keep the Northern Ireland peace process going".

Unionist politicians condemned Mr Straw's decision, later to be contrasted with the Home Secretary's attempts to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, as a sop to Republicans.

In April 1998, Ms McAliskey was allowed to return home to Coalisland, County Tyrone, where she had been arrested in November 1996.

Ms McAliskey could have been prosecuted in the UK under the terms of an European counter-terrorism agreement. The decision not to go ahead with the trial, which was revealed to Parliament yesterday afternoon, was endorsed by the Attorney General and Solicitor General.

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