Gerry Adams meeting ‘productive’ say sons of murdered prison officer

brianstack

The family of a murdered prison officer who was widely believed to have been killed by the IRA has held a meeting with Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams.

Brian Stack, who was Chief Prison Officer at Portlaoise Prison in the Irish Republic, was shot in Dublin in 1983. He died 18 months later.

The IRA never claimed responsibility for the murder, but his family believe he was targeted because of his job.

His son, Austin Stack, described the meeting as very productive and genuine.

Two of the murdered officer’s sons met Mr Adams at the Irish houses of parliament in Dublin on Thursday evening.

Speaking after the meeting, Austin Stack told the Irish state broadcaster RTE that no promises has been made, but that the Sinn Fein president had agreed to help them as best he could.

Mr Stack added that his family felt the offer was genuine and said they are due to meet Mr Adams again in about four weeks.

His father was shot in the back of the neck as he walked along Dublin’s South Circular Road shortly after leaving a boxing tournament.

He was the only prison officer to be assassinated in the Republic of Ireland during the Troubles.

The man who carried out the shooting escaped on a motorbike, driven by an accomplice.

The prison officer was left brain damaged and paralysed from the neck down by the shooting and died from his injuries.

Austin Stack, the eldest of his three children, was 14 at the time of the shooting and is now the assistant governor of Wheatfield Prison in west Dublin.

He said he believes the IRA carried out the attack because his father thwarted a number attempts by members of the paramilitary group to escape from Portlaoise Prison and to smuggle weapons into the high security jail.

Reflect

Mr Stack has said he wants the IRA to admit responsibility for his father’s murder and his family want answers and closure from their discussions with the Sinn Fein president.

They have asked Mr Adams to speak to his contacts about the killing in the hope they can find out who carried it out and why.

“We’re not looking for any form of revenge. We would like to sit down with those people, talk to them and get some form of responsibility.”

Mr Adams, who stepped down as MP for West Belfast to become a member of the Irish parliament two years ago, has consistently denied that he was ever a member of the IRA.

Speaking after the meeting, the Sinn Fein president told RTE it had been a “good” and “comprehensive discussion”.

“There are many families who are looking for closure. It may be that I won’t be able to help but I certainly have the desire to be of assistance,” Mr Adams said.

He added: “We have each agreed to go off and reflect on what was said. And we have agreed to meet again.”

JUDGES HEAR EXTRADITION APPEAL – PROSECUTION FAILS

Radical cleric Abu Hamza and other terror suspects are due to attempt to persuade the High Court in London to halt their extradition from the UK to the US.

Two judges will consider challenges by Hamza, Babar Ahmad, Khaled Al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary, it was confirmed by the Judicial Office.

The men – who will not be attending the proceedings – are seeking injunctions from the court preventing their removal.

It is understood that an application by a fifth suspect, Syed Ahsan, will also be heard by Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Ouseley.

The latest legal action comes after Europe’s human rights judges recently rejected a bid for an appeal by Hamza and the others, paving the way for their extradition.

A panel of five judges threw out their request to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.

Hamza, who was jailed for seven years for soliciting to murder and inciting racial hatred, has been fighting extradition since 2004.

Computer expert Ahmad has been held in a UK prison without trial for eight years after being accused of raising funds for terrorism.

After the ruling in Europe, the Home Office said the five men would be “handed over to the US authorities as quickly as possible”.

Between 1999 and 2006, the men were indicted on various terrorism charges in America.

 

ADDITIONAL NEWS – DPP HALTS PRIVATE PROSECUTION

The top prosecutor in England and Wales has refused to consent to the private prosecution of terror suspects Babar Ahmad and Syed Ahsan.

Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the documents provided by British businessman Karl Watkin were “very short, lack any meaningful detail and do not provide any real support for a prosecution”.

Mr Watkin, a campaigner against the UK’s extradition arrangements with the United States, made the attempt to bring legal proceedings against the pair in the UK to avoid “outsourcing the country’s criminal justice system” to the US.

Mr Starmer went on: “The underlying evidence in support of these alleged offences is in the possession of the USA.

“In the circumstances, I have refused to give my consent to Mr Watkin to bring a private prosecution against Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan for offences under the Terrorism Act 2000.”

Mr Ahmad has been in jail without trial since 2004 while fighting extradition and has pleaded to be charged and tried in Britain.

The pair are accused of being involved in a website which encouraged terrorism and which, while operated from London, was hosted in the US.

Neither has been charged with an offence in the UK relating to the website Azzam.com, even though the investigation by US authorities includes evidence seized by the Metropolitan Police. The CPS has refused to prosecute the men.

Mr Starmer’s decision was announced as Ahmad launched a High Court bid to halt his removal from the UK.

The computer expert’s judicial review application is now expected to be heard tomorrow along with that of radical cleric Abu Hamza and another suspect, Khaled Al-Fawwaz.

The men are seeking injunctions preventing extradition to the US.

Rejecting Mr Watkin’s bid for a private prosecution, Mr Starmer said the attempt relied on “two statements and a number of documents”.

“The two statements purport to have been signed by Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan themselves but they are very short, lack any meaningful detail and do not provide any real support for a prosecution,” he said.

Most of the documents provided appear to have been printed off from websites.

“As they stand, they are probably inadmissible in evidence but, in any event, they do not provide the necessary links between Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan and the charges that Mr Watkin proposes to bring under the Terrorism Act 2000.

“Any prosecution on such material alone would be bound to fail.”

Mr Starmer added that the Metropolitan Police only submitted “a small number of documents” relating to Mr Ahmad in 2004 and does not intend to refer any further material to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for consideration.

And any suggestion that material provided by the United States could be used in support of a prosecution in England and Wales is “misconceived”, he said.

“That material was provided in accordance with the requirements of the Extradition Act 2003 solely for use in the extradition proceedings, which relate to the wider charges alleged in that jurisdiction.”

The DPP’s decision “smacks of a determined effort to extradite both these men”, Mr Watkin said.

“Yet their case is worlds apart from that of convicted Egyptian terrorist Abu Hamza.”

Speaking from Australia, Mr Watkin went on: “The public will decry this decision as it supports a trial of British men thousands of miles from Britain, where the alleged crime was committed simply because in the DPP’s opinion, the evidence is too weak to prosecute here.

“If that’s not outsourcing our criminal justice system, I don’t know what is.

“To my mind, if you commit a crime in Britain, you get convicted in Britain.

“These two should be tried here and, if guilty, go to prison here.

“In my view, the evidence is clear and I have instructed my lawyers to consider asking the courts to order the DPP and Attorney General to think again.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Clearly the UK-US Extradition Act (2003) is unfairly balanced.

“In the case of Babar Ahmad if there was a crime committed it was committed in this country.

“There is absolutely no reason why this gentleman should not be produced before the British courts, arraigned and asked to answer to whatever his crimes are here in the UK.

“British citizens shouldn’t automatically be extradited for trial in America for alleged crimes which didn’t all take place there.”

LOCKERBIE ‘BOMBER’ DIES IN TRIPOLI

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi has died in Tripoli, his brother said.

Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison for the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over the Scottish town which claimed 270 lives. He was released from jail on August 20 2009 on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and sent home to Tripoli with an estimated three months to live.

The decision by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to free the only man convicted of bombing of Pan Am flight 103 provoked an international storm.

His death at his Tripoli home at the age of 59 was announced by his son, Khaled. The bombing of the American plane, travelling from London to New York four days before Christmas, killed all 259 people on board.

Eleven residents of the Dumfries and Galloway town also died after the plane crashed down on their homes in Britain’s biggest terrorist atrocity. After protracted international pressure, Megrahi was put on trial under Scots law at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands. He was found guilty in 2001 of mass murder and was ordered to serve a minimum of 27 years behind bars.

Despite claims that he could not have worked alone, and the lingering suspicion by some that he was innocent, Megrahi was the only man ever convicted over the terrorist attack. He was freed from prison having served nearly eight years of his sentence after he dropped his second appeal against conviction at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

Mr MacAskill’s decision to allow him to return home to die in Libya sparked international condemnation from some relatives of victims and politicians, who demanded he be returned to jail.

US families were among the most vocal critics of the decision, along with US president Barack Obama. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton branded the move “absolutely wrong”. American fury at the decision was compounded by the hero’s welcome Megrahi received in Tripoli upon his return.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also come under pressure from some US senators for an independent inquiry into the decision to free the bomber. But the move attracted support from some victims’ relatives in Britain, and high profile figures such as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

David Ben-Ayreah, a spokesman for the victims of Lockerbie families, said: “I was told seven days ago by very good sources in Tripoli that he was slipping in and out of quite deep comas, that the secondary tumours had affected his abdomen and lower chest, and that he had had three blood transfusions. His death is to be deeply regretted. As someone who attended the trial I have never taken the view that Megrahi was guilty. Megrahi is the 271st victim of Lockerbie.”

publishED! THE DAMNING REPORT THAT COULD PROVE THE LOCKERBIE BOMBER IS INNOCENT

The full report of the legal grounds for the Lockerbie bomber’s second appeal has been published online by a newspaper which could prove Abdel Basset Al-Megrahi is innocent – a link to the report is at the bottom of this post.

The Sunday Herald today posted the 800-page Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) document on its website, the first time the report has been in the public domain.

The document, known as a statement of reasons, sets out the full details of the grounds for referral back to the appeal court in 2007 in the case of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

The six grounds for referral were previously published by the SCCRC – the body which investigates potential miscarriages of justice – in summary.

Megrahi dropped his second appeal shortly before he was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2009 by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

The Scottish Government had brought forward legislation to bring about the publication of the full report but data protection rules, reserved to Westminster, barred its formal publication.

The Herald, which earlier this month published extracts of the report, said it had made the entire report available because it was in the public interest. The newspaper said Megrahi himself had sent a copy to Mr MacAskill.

Gerard Sinclair, the SCCRC’s chief executive, said: “We are aware of the document which has now been published on the Herald website. Whilst we have not yet been able to fully check through every page I can confirm that our first impression is that this does appear to be a copy of our statement of reasons.

“The Commission has always been willing to publish this document, subject to the appropriate protection of individuals’ rights, and to that end has been working for some time with the relevant parties, including the Crown Office and both the Scottish and UK Governments, to allow for publication of the outcome of our inquiries into Mr Megrahi’s conviction.”

The Crown Office released a statement today stating that “unauthorised publication” did not “deal with any of these (data protection and confidentiality) issues which rightly constrain all public authorities by law”.

It said: “We have become very concerned at the drip feeding of selective leaks and partial reporting from parts of the statement of reasons over the last few weeks in an attempt to sensationalise aspects of the contents out of context.

“Persons referred to in the statement of reasons have been asked to respond to these reports without having access to the statement of reasons and this is to be deplored.

“Further allegations of serious misconduct have been made in the media against a number of individuals for which the Commission found no evidence. This is also to be deplored.

“In fact the Commission found no basis for concluding that evidence in the case was fabricated by the police, the Crown, forensic scientists or any other representatives of official bodies or government agencies.”

In preparing for Megrahi’s second appeal, the Crown Office said it had considered all the information in the statement of reasons and had “every confidence in successfully defending the conviction”.

The Crown Office stressed that while it was the SCCRC’s role to determine whether a miscarriage of justice may have taken place, “it does not follow that there was a miscarriage of justice, only the Appeal Court can decide that”.

Megrahi was the only person convicted of the atrocity which killed 270 people when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over Lockerbie in 1988.

He was convicted by Scottish judges in 2001, unsuccessfully appealing against the verdict the same year.

He launched a second appeal, which was referred back to the courts in 2007.

Four of the grounds for referral back to the appeal court outlined in the SCCRC report refer to undisclosed evidence from the Crown to Megrahi’s defence team.

Those grounds cover evidence about a positive identification of Megrahi by Tony Gauci, a Maltese shopkeeper who said he sold clothes to a Libyan man.

The clothes were linked to a suitcase loaded on to the plane, which was then linked to the bomb and eventually to Megrahi.

The SCCRC raised concerns that evidence suggesting Mr Gauci had seen a magazine article linking Megrahi to the bomb was not passed to the defence. Contradictions about the day Megrahi was said to have bought the clothes were also highlighted.

Also of concern to the SCCRC was undisclosed evidence about Mr Gauci’s interest in rewards.

A fifth reason covered “secret” intelligence documents not seen by Megrahi’s legal team while the sixth referred to new evidence on the date of clothes purchased in Malta.

Commenting on the publication, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “I welcome the publication in full of this report, which is something that the Scottish Government has been doing everything in our powers to facilitate.

“I especially welcome the fact that it offers a full account of the SCCRC’s deliberations rather than the partial accounts which have appeared in the media in recent weeks.

“While the report shows that there were six grounds on which it believed a miscarriage of justice may have occurred, it also rejected 45 of the 48 grounds submitted by Megrahi, and in particular it upheld the forensic basis of the case leading to Malta and to Libyan involvement.”

He added: “This report provides valuable information, from an independent body acting without fear or favour, and while we can not expect it to resolve all the issues in the Lockerbie case, it does however lay the basis for narrowing the areas of dispute and in many ways is far more comprehensive than any inquiry could ever hope to be.

“The Lockerbie case of course remains an open criminal investigation, and while the only place to determine guilt or innocence is in a court of law, the SCCRC is a valuable body which is itself part of the Scottish criminal justice system.”

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics programme, Christine Grahame, convenor of Holyrood’s Justice Committee, called for an inquiry into the Crown Office.

She said the publication of the report was “highly significant”.

“The question now is where to go from here, and I would suggest there are routes to take,” she said.

“There are allegations in the report that the Crown Office withheld crucial evidence that might have been substantive evidence to assist the defence, and I think there is a question about how the Crown Office acted.”

She added: “With regard to the Crown Office, we can’t have rebuttals within the press, what we require is an inquiry.

“Colin Boyd was Lord Advocate at the time, if he’s correct (in his rebuttals) then there is no problem, he should have nothing to hide, nor should his office.”

On the appeal against Megrahi’s conviction, Ms Grahame said it would be “quite possible” for his family, after his death, to “step into the dead man’s shoes and resuscitate the appeal with the leave of the court”.

“The appeal process is not finished. There is the appeal process to deal with the conviction, but there is the very serious allegation here against the Crown,” she said.

“I have never known anything like this before. And I think where we have an allegation, I would wish the Crown to be able to establish that this is unfounded.”

Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes MSP said: “I welcome the publication of this full and detailed account of the events surrounding the Lockerbie case.

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant. It is vital for Scotland that our justice system is open and transparent.

“If mistakes have been made, it is vital that we learn the lessons so that justice can be served.”

 

http://login.heraldscotland.com/SCCRC-Statement-of-Reasons-red.pdf

JIHAD FROM JAIL

 

Britain’s most dangerous Islamic terrorists are exploiting a security loophole to spread their message of hate from behind barsImage.

Not only have they been able to radicalise fellow inmates, they have also appealed to a new generation of supporters around the world.

Dozens of unrepentant extremists have been exposed as glorying in their fanaticism and encouraging others to consider further atrocities.

Among them are key figures in almost every major terrorist conspiracy of the past decade, including the July 2005 attacks in London. They include hate cleric Abu Hamza, lone-wolf attacker Roshonara Choudhry and failed BA bomber Rajib Karim.

The inmates have been able to voice their hate-filled opinions via a website apparently run by former members of a banned extremist organisation. Some boasted they were studying extremist material.

News of the security breach sparked outrage and one MP called on the prison authorities to tighten up their systems. It comes at a sensitive time for the Government in the aftermath of the decision to release hate preacher Abu Qatada.

Steve McCabe, a Labour MP who sits on the Home Affairs Committee, said some of the material ‘sounds dangerously close to incitement’

He said: ‘If the prison authorities claim they are monitoring and censoring material, then they are clearly not doing it effectively. It’s time the regime was tightened up.’ 

At the centre of the scandal is a website, www.muslimprisoners.com, which offers to forward letters to more than 50 Muslim prisoners and display their replies. Transcripts of dozens of letters were posted as the website became a key information exchange and networking point for extremist sympathisers. The website offers advice on getting letters and presents to inmates.

One letter is written by Abdulla Ahmed Ali, the ringleader of a plot to blow up transatlantic airliners with liquid bombs. Ali, serving a 40-year sentence, hails the Taliban and says Muslims should ‘sacrifice their lives and limbs’ against the West.

The website also includes a list of high-profile Muslim inmates and the prison in which they are held. It is registered to the same address as the East London Mosque, which once hosted lectures by Al Qaeda terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki.

It is said to have been set up by Abdul Muhid, a convicted terrorist and former member of Al-Muhajiroun, a banned group linked to many of the prisoners. He refused to comment last night. The website has been taken offline. A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it took the risks posed by extremist offenders seriously and staff were trained to be alert to the signs of radicalism.

nDozens of British Muslim extremists are being trained by militants to join a ‘holy war’ in Somalia, it was claimed yesterday.

Intelligence officials say that up to 50 volunteers may have been recruited to fight for al-Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-inspired terrorist group which controls parts of the lawless state.