The Anti-Internment League has described court hearings in which seven-year-old charges were resurrected against republicans Davy Jordan and Gavin Coyle as “political show trials”.
Gavin Coyle, who has already endured five years of a punitive solitary confinement regime at Maghaberry high-security prison, was arrested inside the jail earlier this week, and it is feared that the new charges could prolong his nightmare for several years.
In a Crown court in Strabane on Thursday, the Omagh man refused to stand or speak. But his lawyer, Niall Murphy, demanded to know why the charge had only materialised five years after an alleged recording was obtained of a conversation about an IRA attack. He also questioned why it was not used against his client in his previous prosecution.
A PSNI officer present responded only by claiming that expert voice recording analysis had taken “a long time to progress”.
Mr Murphy also pointed out that no specific details about the attack were mentioned in the alleged conversation. Upon further questioning, the PSNI detective admitted that the case against Coyle did not include fingerprint, DNA, fibre or vehicle tracking evidence.
Mr Murphy accused the police of an abuse of process and said a bid to stay the prosecution would be made at a later court hearing.
However, the judge cancelled a period of temporary release Mr Coyle was due to receive over the Christmas period. Nevertheless, the defiant republican gave the thumbs-up to supporters in the public gallery as he was led from the dock.
On Friday, another Tyrone Republican, Davy Jordan, appeared in a court in Dungannon in connection with the same incident. Jordan also did not speak or stand during the hearing.
A detective sergeant said Mr Jordan refused to answer questions during interrogations and when the charges were finally put to him on Thursday night he replied to each: “I am totally innocent of this fabricated charge.” She said the accused then added: “This is yet another case of internment by remand.”
The PSNI detective then attempted to connect Mr Jordan to the charges as a result of car identification near to the scene, but was forced to make a number of embarrassing admissions.
It ultimately transpired that there was no new evidence against Mr Jordan that wasn’t available when he was arrested and interviewed about the same incident seven years ago, when he was released without charge.
Despite this, the Magistrate remanded him to Maghaberry jail in what the Anti-Internment League described as “one of the clearest incidents of internment by remand seen in Ireland in recent years”.
“Despite the counter claims of collaborators and quislings, internment by remand is continuing to be used against Irish Republicans by the MI5-directed PSNI and State Judiciary, supported by the Stormont SF/DUP Coalition,” they said.
“The case of Gavin Coyle and Davy Jordan should be highlighted by all as a disgraceful abuse of process, especially in the context of the continuing targeted isolation of Gavin.”