German court jails IRA bomb gang

Friday 30 June 1995 23:02

Bonn (Reuter) - A German court yesterday sentenced three IRA activists to jail for a 1989 bomb attack on a British army barracks, but released them pending appeal because they had served a large part of their sentence on remand.

A spokesman for the court in Celle said Pauline and Donagh O'Kane and Patrick Murray had been convicted, like fellow activist Donna Maguire earlier this week, of attempted murder, explosives offences and conspiracy to sabotage.

Pauline O'Kane, 28, was sentenced to nine years in prison. Her husband, 34, and Murray, 51, received sentences of 10 years and three months.

The group are the first IRA activists to be convicted for terrorist attacks in Germany, the focus of a three-year guerrilla bombing campaign in mainland Europe against British and Nato military installations from 1987.

The court said they had served nearly seven years in remand prisons in Germany and France and need not return to jail until the verdict becomes binding after a possible appeal. Even then, having served two-thirds of their terms, the court is likely to suspend the rest.

The four were accused of working as an IRA "active service unit" to plant a 150kg (330lb) Semtex bomb next to the dormitory block in Quebec Barracks in Osnabruck. The bombers were discovered and the soldiers escaped before the blast wrecked the building.

Maguire received a nine-year sentence on Wednesday but was freed having served six years on remand. She has appealed to the Federal Court of Justice saying she wants to clear her name.

t The Government is ready to review the release of IRA prisoners serving life on a case by case basis, Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, hinted yesterday in response to a warning from the Irish foreign minister, Dick Spring, that the impending release of Paratrooper Lee Clegg, jailed for the murder of a joy-rider, could inflame nationalist opinion unless it is matched by the release of IRA prisoners.

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