Irish Republican News · October 6, 2003
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Belfast man denied bail seven times

The Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams has expressed concern at the mistreatment of John O'Hagan by the North's still unreformed judicial system.

Mr O'Hagan has been refused bail seven time by the Belfast High Court on charges of ``possession of documents that could be useful to terrorists''.

The North Belfast man has now been held on remand at Maghaberry prison for nineteen months without being convicted of any offence. It is the equivalent of a three-year sentence.

Mr Adams said he is, ``extremely concerned at the treatment of John O'Hagan by the entire criminal justice system in the North.

``Mr O'Hagan has now been refused bail on seven different occasions. That he should be held in custody for nineteen months - without having been convicted of any offence - is totally unacceptable.

``The treatment afforded to Mr O'Hagan by the policing and judicial systems in the North contrasts starkly with the treatment given to many other cases - including prominent loyalists with previous convictions.''

Mr Adams said that the case ``is an indication of the significant change that is still required in terms of making policing and criminal justice systems properly accountable''.

Despite Mr O'Hagan's nineteen months on remand, it is understood that the prosecution has still not forwarded any fingerprint or forensic evidence to the defence.

A spokesperson for Mr O'Hagan's family expressed deep concern at the handling of the case.

``We have always been concerned about the timing and high-profile nature of John's arrest by the PSNI.

``We are now equally concerned about the treatment of this case by the prosecution and judicial system. Issues such as disclosure by the prosecution are fundamental to a fair trial, yet John's solicitor has been denied relevant material for nineteen months.

There are serious questions now to be asked about the treatment of John's case, which has yet to reach trial - particularly when it is contrasted with other high-profile cases in which repeat offenders are `fast-tracked' for appeal.''

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© 2003 Irish Republican News