One of the seven people arrested for questioning in connection with the recent IRA attacks was taken to hospital last [Saturday] night for medical treatment.
He was arrested on Monday March 16 along with another man and has been refusing food since. He is said to be in severe pain and running a high fever. He is being held under Section 41 of the [British] Serious Terrorism Act.
The family sought an independent doctor to assess his condition during the week but this was refused. However, he has been moved to hospital where he is under armed guard.
“He is completely innocent and should never have been arrested,” said a relative. “Many of those arrested are related and were arrested simply because they are related, the old ‘guilty by association’”.
Prominent republican Colin Duffy has now joined the hunger protest at the detentions at Antrim PSNI base, which have raised human rights concerns.
A total of eleven people are being interrogated over the shootings in which two British soldiers and a member of the PSNI were killed.
None of the families have been allowed to see those detained under British law in Antrim. Their only contact has been with their lawyers.
One man and a 17-year-old youth have now been in Antrim barracks for 12 days. Last night the PSNI were granted a further seven-day detention for two others, a woman and the man arrested with her.
Under special new British legislation, they can be held for questioning for 28 days before they either have to be released or charged. They can be questioned for four hours at a time with a break of just 15 minutes in between.
Republican Sinn Fein has called for “the immediate release of all these Irish people arrested and held under British law in their own country”.
Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey said it was crucial the police showed a “willingness to uphold the highest standard of human rights”.
“Regardless of who is involved or what they are suspected of doing, Sinn Fein have consistently opposed the detention of suspects beyond the existing seven days. We have repeated this position to the British government in recent days,” he said.
“If there is evidence against an individual then that person should be charged and that evidence put before the courts.
“If there is no evidence then that person should be released. That is the normal democratic standard and it is one which must be adhered to.”
Mike Ritchie, director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, has also expressed his concern at the length of the interrogation periods now being applied to republicans.
“We would be concerned about holding anyone for this length of time and the fact that one of them is a minor is an additional concern that aggravates the situation,” he said.
DUFFY FAMILY STATEMENT
The family of Colin Duffy have issued a statement in which they warned that he was being ‘set up’ by the PSNI and appealed for a broadly-based justice campaign on his behalf. Mr Duffy was notoriously subjected to harassment by PSNI/RUC forces in the area for some two decades. He spent three years behind bars before being freed after a previous miscarriage of justice was exposed.
“In the direct aftermath of the fatal shootings of two British army privates and a member of the PSNI, the media and some local politicians engaged in what can only be described as frenzy of finger pointing and ‘felon setting’,” the Duffy family said.
“As each politician and reporter attempted to out do the previous comments in regards as to who was responsible, a deliberate picture was painted that resulted in the media and politicians identifying who ought to be arrested. Our family member Colin was one of those and in due course the PSNI obliged.
“Colin’s arrest came as no surprise to us as his family due to the comments of the media and politicians, and our worst fears that he would be ‘set up’ as a scapegoat are borne out by two facts that the media and politicians have failed to report.
“Firstly, Colin was visited four days before his arrest by the PSNI to inform him that a threat had been made on his life, why was he not arrested then?
“Secondly, after his arrest Colin’s legal representative was informed that his arrest was ‘intelligence led and not and based on evidence’, in other words they had to arrest him to quell the media frenzy.”
The Duffy family pointed to the recent collapses in the trials of Sean Hoey (cleared of all charges in connection with the 1998 Omagh bomb) and Chris Ward (cleared of involvement in the Northern Bank raid) as examples of “intelligence-led investigations”.
“Do we have to see more people illegally detained before someone says ‘stop, not in my name’?
“Colin has now been detained for 8 days and in an attempt to bring this ‘farce’ to an end is refusing to take food in order to highlight the injustice he is suffering.
“We have all been down this road before and know where it will end unless true leadership is shown. Justice is a right not a gift from local politicians and the media.”