A system of injustice exposed again
A system of injustice exposed again


A ten-year, ten million pound effort to lock up three prominent republicans has ended in failure with Colin Duffy and Henry Fitzsimons both found not guilty.

The two men had been interned by remand for almost three years and spent a further seven years under draconian bail conditions before MI5’s claims that they had been illegally discussing a New IRA action were dismissed this week.

Justice O’Hara, heading up a nonjury Diplock court, admitted he could not believe the two men featured on the recordings presented as evidence.

A third republican, Alex McCrory, was previously acquitted last March of all charges he faced.

Saoradh’s Stephen Murney described it as a malicious case “concocted” by MI5 “from the get go” and hit out at what he said was the collusion of a willing media that had “vilified” the accused.

The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association welcomed the verdict. They said it underscores the inherent “futility, corruption, and inefficiency” plaguing the “pseudo judicial” Diplock court framework.

“This verdict not only highlights the systemic flaws and arbitrary nature of Diplock courts but also reflects the enduring struggle for justice within a system marked by its questionable legitimacy and lack of due process,” they said.

“Many within the wider public are asking questions about the cost of this futile exercise, the millions of pounds, time and effort employed by Crown Forces clearly demonstrate that for the Brits, when it comes to political repression money is no object.”

This case involved the first challenge of its kind to digital evidence and the authenticity of the data to which MI5 sought to rely on to prove their claims. During the trial, several experts were called to give evidence about the audio recordings.

As he gave his ruling on Thursday, the judge said it would be unsafe to rely on his own impression of the audio evidence given the “clear warnings” from the experts for both the prosecution and defence.

“In light of this conclusion I cannot say that I am satisfied to the requisite standard that the audio evidence proves that either Fitzsimons or Duffy was in the lane in Lurgan Park on the afternoon of the 6th of December, 2013,” Justice O’Hara said, before finding both men not guilty on all charges.

Mr Fitzsimons, from Belfast, was represented by Philip Breen, who said his client had served 27 months on remand, which “has been followed with over seven years of curfew, with police calling continually during curfew hours”.

Lurgan man Colin Duffy (pictured) was represented by Peter Corrigan of Phoenix Law, who said that the prosecution was “doomed from its inception”.

“This was a process manipulated and misrepresented by MI5 from the outset. A classic case of trying to make the glove fit,” he said. “MI5 found out today that the rule of law applies equally to everyone - including them.”

Thursday’s acquittal is the latest injustice for Mr Duffy, who has endured several false arrests, dropped chrages and a full-blown miscarriage of justice in a lifetime of Crown Force harassment.

He faced a life sentence at the age of 27 following his wrongful conviction in 1995 over a Provisional IRA attack two years earlier. After spending three years in prison, his conviction was quashed at the Court of Appeal after the evidence of a loyalist witness was discredited.

In 2009, Mr Duffy faced charges in connection with a Real IRA attack on Massereene Barracks in Antrim and was found not guilty. His co-accused, Brian Shivers, was convicted of killing two British soldiers but the conviction was subsequently overturned.

There has been widespread speculation that the charges were designed to simply “take out” the leading republicans in order to weaken Saoradh and facilitate its infiltration by a double-agent.

The scandal over the failed prosecutions and the apparent abuse of the judicial process by the PSNI and MI5 has raised questions for the Stormont Minister for Justice, Naomi Long, as well as the British state, but at the time of publication there has been no comment.

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