Tohill accuses PSNI of ‘frame-up’

A republican at the center of an alleged IRA kidnap plot stormed out of a courtroom and claimed he had been framed because he refused to make a statement blaming the Provisional IRA for an alleged abduction and beating.

Bobby Tohill was accused of threatening to kill a man named as Patrick Ward on March 27 when he was brought into court.

He was also charged with possessing a real or imitation gun and with going into a west Belfast tower block armed with a pistol and a baton with intent to cause Mr Ward grievous bodily harm.

Mr Tohill denied the charges.

Despite expressing fears of an IRA attack to journalists, the former paramilitary described the incident earlier this year in which four men were arrested as a bar-room brawl. He has complained of being used as a pawn in the political process after the incident led to a furore over Sinn Féin’s participation in talks.

In a dossier rushed out last month, the Independent Monitoring Commission backed claims that the IRA planned and carried out the operation, and imposed a financial penalty on Sinn Féin.

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Shane O’Neill asked the PSNI police officer making the claims if he was aware that Mr Ward had made two statements retracting his complaints against Mr Tohill.

The detective confirmed he knew of one withdrawal, as he had recorded it.

He was also unaware that the PSNI had twice stopped Tohill since the alleged offences but reassured him he was not wanted for any offence.

Mr O’Neill then challenged the sergeant: “Has the police decision to charge Mr Tohill been related to his refusal to make a statement to the police in respect of his alleged abduction?”

The sergeant replied: ‘No.’

“Has the decision to charge Mr Tohill also not been related to his recent statement to the IMC, in which he criticises the police and indeed believes their whole handling of the alleged abduction has been designed to embarrass nationalist groups?” Mr O’Neill then asked.

The accused walked out, declaring: “I’m not listening to that. It’s a set-up, a political frame-up.”

Mr Tohill was remanded in custody.

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