UK news PPS defends trial of two veterans accused of IRA leader Joe McCann's murder after collapse last news
PremierLeague-News.Com - The Public Prosecution Service has defended its decision to prosecute two former paratroopers over the death of Official IRA leader Joe McCann after the trial collapsed.
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! "The Public Prosecution Service has defended its decision to prosecute two former paratroopers over the death of Official IRA leader Joe McCann after the trial collapsed. The veterans’ trial at Belfast Crown Court collapsed after the PPS confirmed it would not appeal against a decision by Mr Justice O’Hara to exclude statements given by the ex-soldiers about the 1972 shooting.It was the first trial in several years that involved charges against former military personnel who served in the Northern Ireland conflict.Four other cases involving the prosecution of veterans are at pre-trial stage in the courts.Mr McCann (24) was shot dead by paratroopers as he attempted to evade arrest by a plain clothed police officer in the Markets Area of Belfast in April 1972.The trial opened last Monday and heard a full day of evidence.It then moved into a separate voir dire hearing to determine whether statements and interviews given by the ex-soldiers, who are now in their 70s, would be admissible as evidence.On Friday, Mr Justice O’Hara ruled that the soldiers’ evidence could not be admitted.With the PPS having conceded the material was the only evidence before the court that could be used to prove the soldiers fired at Mr McCann, its decision not to appeal against the judge’s ruling means the case could not proceed.After the prosecution confirmed it would be presenting no further evidence in the case, judge Mr Justice O’Hara told the defendants: “In the circumstances Mr A and C I formally find you not guilty of the charge of murder.”Moments later the two accused, dressed in suits and ties, walked from the court.The prosecution was taken after Northern Ireland’s Attorney General referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2014 after receiving the findings of the HET report.Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Michael Agnew said the decision was taken in 2016 after the evidence received was subjected to a "very thorough and careful examination by a team of experienced lawyers"."Despite today's outcome, the PPS remains satisfied that this case was properly brought before the courts. The case overcame a number of legal challenges before reaching trial," he said."It was always recognised that there were difficult issues in relation to the admissibility of the interviews having regard to the approach taken by the HET to cases involving soldiers, as described in the 2013 report published by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary."However, the prosecution took the view that there remained a reasonable prospect of conviction and that it was proper for the court to determine these issues.
News source = PremierLeague-News.Com
."He added: "I would like to acknowledge the enduring pain of the McCann family and recognise how difficult this development has been for them."Senior prosecutors met with them today to explain why an appeal is not being brought and have assured them that this decision was taken only after a careful assessment of the prospects of a successful appeal having regard to the trial judge's ruling."The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice spokesperson, Doug Beattie said the trial collapse highlights the huge difficulty that surrounds so-called legacy cases.“Many will question just how the PPS thought this case could ever have been brought to court, given it emerged that the two ex-Paras had not been arrested or interviewed before they were charged,” he said. “A prosecution barrister also confirmed that neither man has ever been spoken to by the police.“The PPS needs to explain how and why these men were put through this trial, and what implications the collapse of this case due to lack of admissible evidence will have on other legacy cases, particularly those involving former soldiers.“At the time of his death the IRA said that Joe McCann was responsible for the murders of 15 soldiers. He was a ruthless and dedicated terrorist. My thoughts today are with all innocent victims.”TUV leader should have been clear to prosecutors from the outset that this would be the outcome. He added: “Once again the PPS face serious questions about their zeal to go after those who served in the security forces while those who went out with the intent to murder seldom appear before the courts. Whatever the circumstances of his death there is no dispute about the fact that Mr McCann was a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation. "Many innocent victims of terrorists have never seen anyone accused of the murder of their loved one stand before the courts. Such double standards do nothing to build confidence in everyone being equal under the law and equally subject to the law. Today’s ruling should cause the PPS to reflect on how they are dealing with legacy cases.”"
Source = PremierLeague-News.Com