Newsblog: 9-13 April
This is a round-up of the weeks major terrorism news stories by ICSR Research Intern, Henry Millard
Six held in Antrim after Real IRA vow to continue their campaign of terror
A Real IRA rally at the Creggan cemetery in Derry commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising has seen 6 men arrested by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and taken to the Serious Crimes Suite of Antrim police station after the event was monitored by a PSNI helicopter.
Before the rally a small group of paramilitaries and several hundred supporters marched through the cemetery. During the wreath-laying ceremony a man in a balaclava wearing battle fatigues read a statement, on behalf of the Real IRA , which vowed that the dissident republicans would persist in acts of terrorism; “The IRA will continue to attack Crown Force personnel, their installations, as well as British interests and infrastructure,” he said.
The Easter Monday event was organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and comes a day after calls from Sinn Fein for a process of reconciliation and the perseverance of peace. The Real IRA is responsible for the murder of soldiers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar outside the Massereene Barracks in 2009.
Chief Inspector Gary Eaton and other PSNI spokesmen stated senior officers had taken the decision to action “a low-key operational response to the event”, further adding the events would be “rigorously and thoroughly investigated”
Held in a cell or in a straight jacket? Fresh analysis of Breivik’s psychiatric state could see a custodial sentence after all
A new psychiatric examination has found that self-declared mass killer Anders Breivik is not criminally insane and is of sound mind. It conflicts a previous examination which concluded Breivik was psychotic at the time of the attacks and diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. The previous analysis may have meant Breivik’s detention within a psychiatric institution rather than the penal system , the most recent assessment re-establishes a custodial sentence as a distinct possibility.
The revelation comes just 6 days before the Norwegian’s 10-week trial for terror charges is due to commence. The series of attacks orchestrated by Breivik in July saw a total of 77 people lose their lives in the Oslo bombing and subsequent Utoeya massacre. 34 of his victims were aged between 14 – 17.
Breivik’s previous psychotic diagnosis and calls for his commitment to a psychiatric care over prison received widespread criticism. Breivik insists he is mentally stable and has confessed to the attacks, but has denied criminal guilt and charges of terrorism calling rampage a necessary atrocity as part of his “crusade” against multi-culturalism and Islam and
Prosecutors originally reserved the right deviate from a sentence of compulsory psychiatric care, if new a diagnosis emerged regarding Breivik’s mental condition. Both reports will now be taken into consideration by the court when it decides whether he should be confined to a ward or a cell. If Breivik is found sane, it could result in a 21 year sentence with the potential for indefinite extensions to his imprisonment on the grounds of public protection.
Eye Wide Shut – Justice and Security green paper proposals receive cross-party condemnation
Former security adviser to David Cameron, Patrick Mercer MP is the latest to voice ‘grave’ concerns over proposals, found within the Justice and Security green paper , which seek to extend ‘Closed Material Procedures’ to allow more proceedings to be heard in secretly. The paper has also been condemned by the human rights campaigners Reprieve , .
In his statement today the Conservative’s security spokesman until 2007 seeks acknowledgment that free and open trials are an immensely important facet of the British criminal justice system. The erosion of which may amount to a major propaganda victory for violent extremists and may even bolster the perceived credibility of extremist narratives.
Under plans considered in the green paper , in some cases defendants may not be allowed to be present, know of, or challenge cases brought against them. In such incidents they would also be required to be represented by an advocate with security-clearance, rather than their solicitor. Parliament’s Human Rights Committee has produced a report criticising the plans as “inherently unfair and dangerous”. Mr Mercer remarked; “the point about terrorism and subversion is that it endeavours to change the way we live our lives and the tenets upon which we base our justice… by imposing these changes upon ourselves, we are doing the subversives’ jobs for them.”
Further issues have been raised regarding accountability , as current proposals seek a ban on Norwich Pharmacal, the legal principle which addresses issues of disclosure, explanation, and complicity in wrongdoing. All of which are particularly pertinent when investigating allegations of abuse and/or misconduct of detainees at the hands of the security services. Parallels have been drawn with the Diplock courts of Northern Ireland, where the juryless courts, whilst ensuring short term convictions, led to accusations of injustice, encroachment of civil liberties and imperialist authoritarianism.
According to the Telegraph , the Government faces a revolt and “senior figures from all parties have condemned the move”. The Special Advocates’ response to the consultation offers a comprehensive summary of these concerns.