IRA trial begins in Germany
IRA trial begins in Germany

A Scottish man has gone on trial in northern Germany today charged with involvement in an 1996 IRA rocket attack on a British military base.

Mr Michael Dickson was arrested in Prague last December and extradited in April to Germany, where he has remained in custody pending his trial at the state court in Celle.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, he is also accused of setting off an explosion. The trial is scheduled to last until early January.

Mr Dickson is charged with being a member of an IRA active service unit that shelled a British army base in the northwestern German town of Osnabrueck on June 28th, 1996.

The IRA claimed responsibility for firing three shells from an abandoned minivan on to the Quebec Barracks, causing damage but no injuries.

It was one of the last military actions of the IRA before it restored its ceasefire prior to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

The German police claim Dickson, who is reported to speak fluent German, provided intelligence and assistance to the bombers.

If found guilty, Dickson will be the first IRA man to be convicted since the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

Sinn Fein has called on the British government to abandon prosecution of Republicans `on-the-run' from charges which date prior to the signing of the Good Friday peace accord. Under the terms of the Agreement, anyone convicted in Britain or Ireland of such offences could expect immediate release.

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