‘Vindictive’ convictions overturned

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Two former republican prisoners have had false convictions against them quashed by the Spanish Supreme Court.

Husband and wife Donna Maguire and Leonard Hardy had been falsely accused by the British Crown forces of being involved in smuggling, a claim entertained by the Spanish authorities.

In December 2014, at the request of the British government, the couple were arrested in a Lanzarote hotel, where they were holidaying with their four children, aged between nine and 17 at the time.

After a four-day show trial the pair were found guilty on a charge of laundering “illicit” profits through property purchases in Spain.

After news of the pair’s arrest had emerged, Spain’s National Police said in a January 2015 statement: “National Police officers have smashed an organisation involved in smuggling tobacco and alcohol.

“Among those arrested are the organisation’s alleged ringleader and his wife, both ex-IRA members.”

However, the Supreme Curt in Madrid this week ruled the convictions were a miscarriage of justice. It found that the evidence from British authorities “was not evidence which could be used in a Spanish court to ground a conviction”.

Ms Maguire said afterwards: “There was no evidence at any stage to substantiate the allegations they levelled against me and my family.

“We have spent the best part of seven years of our lives advocating our innocence and today’s judgment by the Supreme Court comes as vindication for me and my family.”

Their lawyer Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, said: “The Supreme Court has been unequivocal.”

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