Archive | October 11th, 2010

MONDOWEISS ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

10/11/2010

Israeli soldiers don keffiyehs to try to break the back of Palestinian resistance, then stop photographers from filming them

Oct 10, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Notes from the moral battleground: an amazing post by Joseph Dana on a demonstration against the illegal colonization of the village of Beit Ummar in which Zio=Nazi Gestapo’s disguised themselves as Palestinian demonstrators in order to arrest three Palestinian protesters. Vicious. Look at Dana’s photograph:

dana

There are more photos at the link. And here is Dana’s report, with a video. Where is the international protest of the military support for the criminal confiscation of people’s land? Where are the legions of support for these brave villagers who did not ask to be thrust into an international battle but who had no choice? Listen to the man cry, “This is our land!” Look at the noble, noble internationals who have come to their side. Where is Hillary Clinton? Where are Barney Frank and Alan Grayson and Jon Stewart?

Four Palestinians, three internationals and one Israeli solidarity activist were arrested by Israeli Forces during a Palestinian demonstration against Karmei Tsur, an illegal Israeli settlement built on Beit Umar land. The arrested Israeli solidarity activist was injured after the Army held her down and deployed pepper spray directly to her eyes. Several undercover soldiers disguised as Palestinians came behind the demonstrators and arrested three Palestinians teenagers. An additional Palestinian activist with mental disabilities was arrested during the protest. Sound bombs and tear gas were used by the Army against the demonstrators, and one member of the press had their camera broken by a soldier.

Around two dozen Israeli soldiers and border police blocked the path of the demonstrators, who began to chant against the occupation. Israeli soldiers then began making arrests and firing sound bombs and tear gas directly at protesters. Members of the press were also beaten by soldiers. Some of the youth in the demonstration responded by throwing stones. Karmei Tsur is one of five Israeli settlements, deemed illegal by international law, that are built on land belonging to Beit Umar villagers. The demonstration, which takes place in Beit Umar every Saturday, started at around 1pm as 70 Palestinians, supported by International and Israeli solidarity activists, marched towards the Karmei Tsur settlement. The demonstration is organized by the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Umar, and the Palestine Solidarity Project.

One other thought. They didn’t ask to be thrust into this battle, those villagers, as I said above. In Nilin, they have lost five young people (including this beautiful boy) to Israeli bullets, people trying to save their land. Now let me quote the New York Review of Books, which deserves great credit for the reporting it has published in recent months. Here is Nathan Thrall, commenting on the occupation:

The danger, for Israel and the Palestinian Authority alike, is what will happen if negotiations fail and Fayyad’s plan does not produce significant concessions from Israel. “[Israel is] not going to withdraw from certain areas just because there was a declaration or a UN resolution,” [former Barak aide Mike] Herzog said. In that event Hamas will be able to present a persuasive argument that violence is the only means of achieving national liberation.

I am against violence, but read that last line over again, and then quarrel with the logic, after 62 years of being promised a state and getting nothing from the world. Then tell me you are against BDS.

Does anyone in Israel have the vision thing?

Oct 10, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Steve Walt had breakfast at Harvard with Tzipi Livni. It was off the record, but he can quote himself:

I didn’t get a chance to ask her a question. I had scribbled one down in my notebook, however, and here’s what I would have asked:

“I would like to know where you think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is headed. I don’t mean where you want the conflict to go or what resolution you think is most desirable, but rather what outcome you think is most likely given where we are today and what the prevailing trends are.

“At present, most people say they want a ‘two-state solution.’ Barack Obama wants that, and so did George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Tony Blair, Mahmoud Abbas, Ehud Olmert, and you do too. So do I. Even Prime Minister Netanyahu has endorsed that idea at least once.

“Yet if current trends continue, a two-state solution will eventually be impossible and we will all have to acknowledge that reality.

Indeed, a growing number of people are convinced that this is already the case, either because Israel’s political system is too dysfunctional to change course, because the Palestinians are too divided to make a deal, or because there are too many settlers to remove.

“Former Prime Minister Olmert has warned that if the two-state solution fails, then Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state is imperiled. I think he’s right, and what I can’t understand is why more Israelis — and their supporters in other countries — aren’t deeply worried about this situation, and aren’t doing everything in their power to get a two-state deal done before it is too late.

“So my question is: where is this conflict headed, and what should be done today to avoid the one-state future that many now see as inevitable”

This is on the Foreign Policy site, mind you. Ball’s in your court, Tzipi.

Israeli diplomacy: German development minister barred from entering Gaza

Oct 10, 2010

Philip Weiss 

Germany never criticizes Israel. It has no standing, evidently. That may be changing. Spiegel online, commentator Christoph Schult:

[German Development Minister Dirk] Niebel, currently on a trip to the Middle East, was prevented by Israeli authorities from entering the Gaza Strip to check up on the progress of a sewage treatment plant being funded by Germany…

German-Israeli relations are in a state of crisis. The arrogance of the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to blame. Via his security advisors, he let Merkel know that she was not to say anything publicly about the Israeli settlements policy during Netanyahu’s visit to Berlin. He represented a critical telephone call as a positive chat. And he declined a prisoner exchange that had been put together by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, which could have brought captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit home from the Gaza Strip. Israeli Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, interviewed in the current issue of SPIEGEL, described the latter as “a mistake.”

…Israel has not just denied a visit by a German minister. For months it has also been blocking the entry of building materials necessary for the construction of the German waste water treatment plant.

Palestinian Israelis are to have ‘Jewish’ nationality (as Jews once had to be public Christians in Europe)

Oct 10, 2010

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel 

Today the Israeli government approved a proposal by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to change the declaration of loyalty required of all non-Jews applying for Israeli citizenship (excluding those entitled to citizenship according to the Law of Return).  Neeman’s proposal seeks to amend the current declaration – “I declare that I will be a loyal national of the State of Israel” (Nationality Law 5712-1952, art. 5c) – to include the words “as a Jewish and democratic state”.

The timing is symbolic. Exactly ten years ago, the first ten days of October 2000 were marked by protests in northern Israel, brutally repressed by Israeli police, who used live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas against Palestinian Israeli citizens, leaving 13 dead. Israeli security forces have never used live ammunition against Jewish protesters – no matter how violent. The contradiction between “Jewish” and “democratic” could not have been more poignant. The events were a watershed for Palestinian Israelis, comparable to 30 March 1976 (“Land Day”), demonstrating once again their second-class citizenship and exclusion (“treated as enemies”), and affirming their connection to Palestinians on the other side of the “green line”.

And for many Jewish Israelis, the protests themselves (in solidarity with Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the OPT) reflected the basic disloyalty of Palestinian citizens to the Jewish state.

A commission of inquiry (the Or Commission) identified institutional discrimination as one of the root causes of Palestinian discontent, and made a series of recommendations to address this inequality. Not only have the commission’s recommendations been ignored, but since October 2000, efforts have been redoubled to “Judaise” the Galilee, Wadi ‘Ara and the Triangle, and to discredit Palestinian Israeli leaders and representatives in the Knesset. The ban on Palestinian family unification (where one spouse is an Israeli citizen and the other a Palestinian from the OPT) can also be traced to these events, as can recent attempts to reinforce Israel’s “Jewish character” – in proposed legislation such as the amendment to the declaration of loyalty (for other examples, see the Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s position paper Harming Democracy in the Heart of Democracy), and in the repeated demand for international and especially Palestinian recognition of Israel “as a Jewish state”.

Another Israeli policy with roots in the October Events is the crackdown on Palestinian civil society, as described by Ameer Makhoul.

In The Time of the Green Line, Yehouda Shenhav compares the situation of Palestinian citizens of Israel to that of emancipated Jews in 19th-century Europe (beginning with Prussia, in 1841), who were afforded individual freedoms, but required to be “Christians” in public. Shenhav writes:

According to the model of the green line, Palestinian nationalism must accept the Judaism of the public sphere; it does not allow recognition of Palestinian nationalism that is not subservient, and denies Palestinian citizens of Israel collective political rights. The demand that the state be Jewish and democratic requires Palestinian citizens of Israel to define their nationality as Jewish, even if they are Muslims or Christians by religion. … Palestinian citizens of Israel are not willing to define their nationality as Jewish … all the more so, because the Jewish state defines their own nationality as that of an enemy.

During the Oslo years, many Israeli Jews, even on the left, believed that this transformation had largely been accomplished, that Israel’s Palestinian citizens had developed a national identity distinct from that of other Palestinians, a “Jewish” identity. The events of October 2000 shattered those illusions, but led very few to question the political and ideological system behind them, opting instead for more of the same: forced Judaisation, not only of the land, but of all of its inhabitants – with the caveat that they will never be treated as equals.

Posted in Middle East1 Comment

ZIONIST ATTEMPTING IRAQ ETHNIC PARTITION

NOVANEWS

Works in Progress:

–          The partition of Palestine (most recently into Gaza Strip; East Jerusalem; West Bank )

–          The partition of Iraq

In Iraq , the occupation is attempting “ethnic” partition.

See second item below: A statement issued yesterday (October 10, 2010) by the BRusselS Tribunal.

In Palestine/Israel, Israel’s security forces are now drilling the concentration, in camps, and mass deportation to the Palestinian Authority of Palestinian citizens of Israel: Yesterday, military affairs reporter, Carmela Menashe, reported (in Hebrew; http://www.iba.org.il/bet/?type=1&entity=680286) that a large scale drill simulated “extreme scenarios of violent protests in the Arab sector following accords with the Palestinian Authority on population exchange. A detention camp for Israeli Arabs will be set up at Golani junction to receive detainees. The large-scale drill was administered and led by the Prison Services and included the military Home Command, the Israel Police Force, the Military Police, fire fighting forces and others.” [Translation mine]

See first item below: A statement issued yesterday by Gush Shalom.

Rela Mazali

Israeli security forces practice suppression and mass detention of Israel’s Arab citizens, in implementation of Lieberman’s “population exchange” program.

Gush Shalom: It seems Lieberman is Israel ‘s true Prime Minister

This week Israel ‘s security forces practiced the putting down of mass demonstrations and protests among Israel ‘s Arab citizens and their imprisonment in a large detention camp to be established at Golani Junction in Galilee . The exercise was based on a scenario of the riots being provoked by implementation of Avigdor Lieberman’s plan for “an exchange of populations”, i.e. massively depriving Arabs of their Israeli citizenship.

A week ago Lieberman voiced this heinous idea on the podium of the UN Assembly General and Prime Minister Netanyahu murmured some weak reservations. Now it turns out that the security forces are already preparing to implement it in practice, under the responsibility of none other than Labor Party leader Ehud Barak – the Minister of Defence.

It goes without saying that in a country having any pretence to be a democracy it would be unacceptable and unthinkable for the security forces to practice waging war against the country’s own citizens. Together with the racist “Loyalty Oath Bill” which gained the support of the government, and with the demonstrative resumption of settlement construction in the Occupied Territories , it increasingly seems that Lieberman is the true Prime Minister, and that the government follows on his path, leading the State of Israel in big and rapid strides into the abyss.

Contact: Adam Keller , Gush Shalom Spokesperson 03-5565804 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              03-5565804      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or 054-2340749 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              054-2340749      end_of_the_skype_highlighting


From: The BRussells Tribunal [mailto:news@brussellstribunal.org]

Sent: Sunday, October 10, 2010 9:17 PM

To:

Subject: Statement: Partition by Census

 

 

PARTITION BY CENSUS

‘>

We, the undersigned, defending the right of Iraq to independence, sovereignty,

unity and territorial integrity, rejecting the attempts of Iraqi puppets promoted

by the US occupation to trade the national rights of Iraqis and to institutionalise

via census the criminal demographic engineering they have pursued by force, declare that:

From the first day of the US-UK occupation of Iraq , the occupation began to undertake a

series of measures, directly or through its local allies, to destroy Iraq as a state and a nation

 and to partition it along ethnic and sectarian lines.

Today, the puppet government of the occupation and its Kurdish partners are trying to hold

 a population census in Kirkuk province whose aim is to give a permanent legal character to

the criminal social engineering, ethnic cleansing and demographic changes that have been

implemented under occupation.[1] This could unleash a full blown civil war across Iraq, and

potentially lead to its partition and a consequent regional war.

In addition to the death of more than one million Iraqis, the ethnic cleansing and other means

 pursued by the United States, United Kingdom and their allies in order to implement the process

 of partitioning Iraq, in its cities and regions, have caused the forced migration of

2.5 million Iraqis out of Iraq and the forced displacement of 2.5 million others from

their homes inside Iraq.The ethnic cleansing suffered by the population in the provinces

of Mosul, Diyala, Salahuddin and the Baghdad area, and most notably in Kirkuk and the so-

called “disputed areas” — where the population is forced by various means, including systematic

assassinations, bombing civilians, collective punishment, transfer, displacement, deportation

and other crimes against humanity, to migrate only to be replaced by people from other

provinces or even from outside Iraq — is a clear crime of destruction and part of the

intended partition of Iraq. The United States , the United Kingdom and their allies waged

an illegal war of aggression against Iraq and occupied its territory. This war in itself is a

crime punishable under international law.

International law, in particular The Hague Regulations of 1907, the Geneva Conventions and

additional protocols, and the Genocide Convention, explicitly prohibits occupying powers from

instituting changes aimed at permanently altering the foundational structures of occupied

territories, including the judiciary, economy, political institutions and social fabric.[2]

International law considers the systematic transfer, deportation or displacement of popula-

tion a crime against humanity.[3] Residents of affected areas, the Iraqi national forces, the

displaced, and the majority of the people of Iraq declare this census null and void. It has no

binding legal consequences and cannot and should not be used to support or justify the

intended partition of Iraq .

We demand that no census be conducted before the free return of all Iraqi refugees.

We demand that the question of ethnicity not be used to instigate the partition of Iraq

and that it be removed from any census, now and in the future. We declare as fraudulent

the justification under occupation of a census on the basis of long term planning in the

context of a temporary and unstable demographic situation.

We demand that the United Nations and the Arab League and all governments, person-

alities, organisations and institutions support the demands of the people of Iraq by not

recognising the results of this census, and by not assisting in conducting it. This census

is designed to reward criminals for their crimes at the expense of their victims.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Dr Ian Douglas, coordinator of the International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

Abdul Ilah Albayaty, Iraqi political analyst and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

Hana Al Bayaty, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal and the International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq

Dirk Adriaensens, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

Prof. Em. François Houtart,  Participant in the Bertrand Russell War Crimes Tribunal on US Crimes in Vietnam in 1967, Director of the Tricontinental Center (Cetri), spiritual father and member of the International Committee of the World Social Forum of Porto Alegre, Executive Secretary of the Alternative World Forum, President of the International League for Rights and Liberation of People, Honorary President of the BRussells Tribunal and senior advisor to the President of the United Nations General Assembly Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, recipient of the 2009 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence

Prof. Dr. Lieven De Cauter, philosopher, K.U. Leuven / Rits, initiator of the BRussells Tribunal

Prof. Patrick Deboosere , Demographer, VUB – member of the BRussells Tribunal executive committee

Ward Treunen, former TV producer – member of the BRussells Tribunal executive committee

Hugo Wanner, VZW Netwerk Vlaanderen – member of the BRussells Tribunal executive committee

NOTES

[1] Forced displacement and the construction of walled-in districts and their associated regimes, by contributing to demographic changes in Iraq, contravene international humanitarian law, including Article 49, paragraphs 1 and 5, of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949, and as such constitute war crimes.

[2] Articles 43 and 55 of The Hague IV Regulations on Laws and Customs of War on Land, 1907 (HR); Articles 54 and 64 of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949. Occupying powers are obliged to manage the resources of the occupied territory under the law of usufruct only. This means that while they may use national resources as necessary to the upkeep of the wellbeing of the population in the occupied territory (Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 64) they cannot profit from the use of such resources or award themselves partial or whole ownership of such resources. The US remains a belligerent occupier of Iraq .

[3] Article 7 (1) (d) of the Elements of Crimes of the International Criminal Court.

 

To endorse this statement, please send an email to PARTITION BY CENSUS

 

ENDORSED BY 

Denis Halliday

Ireland

Former UN Assistant Secretary General & United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq 1997-98, recipient of the 2003 Gandhi International Peace Award

Niloufer hagwatB

India

Vice President of Indian Lawyers Association

Matthias Chang

Malaysia

Trustee of The  Kuala Lumpur Foundation To Criminalise War

Dr. Curtis F.J. Doebbler

USA

International Human Rights Lawyer

Karen Parker

USA

Attorney , Association of Humanitarian Lawyers, partners of the BRussells Tribunal

Salah Omar Al Ali

Iraq

ex iraqi minister/ex Iraq ‘s ambassador to UN

Abdulkarim Hani

Iraq

Former Health minister 

Ahmed Manai

Tunesia

Former expert with the UN, President of the Tunisian Institute of International Relations – Tunesia

Naji Haraj

Iraq

Former diplomat, human rights advocate

Sabah Al Mukhtar

Iraq/UK

President of the Arab Lawyers Association

Eduardo Galeano

Uruguay

Essayist, journalist, historian, and activist

Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Canada

Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) 

Dr Zulaiha Ismail

Malaysia

Perdana Global Peace Organisation

Dr Souad Al Azzawi

Iraq

Researcher on the use of DU in Iraq , Asst. Prof. Env. Eng – University of Baghdad  

Gideon Polya

Australia

retired senior biochemist, author: biochemical scientific publications and global avoidable mortality

Paola Manduca

Italy

Scientist, New Weapons Committee

Stephen Lendman

USA

Writer, analyst, co-host of The Global Research News Hour

Felicity Arbuthnot

UK

Journalist

Dahr Jamail

USA

Journalist

Nicolas Davies

USA

Author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq .

Max Fuller

UK

Author of For Iraq , the Salvador Option Becomes Reality and Crying Wolf, deaths squads in Iraq  

Merry Fitzgerald

Belgium

Europe-Turkmens of Iraq Friendships Association

Sigyn Meder

Sweden

Member of the Iraq Solidarity Association in Stockholm

Joachim Guilliard

Germany

Journalist, Anti-war movement

Inge Van De Merlen

 

Belgium

 

Member of the BRussells Tribunal

 

 

 

 

 

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BALLYMURPHY MASSACRE

NOVANEWSWe received this today from the Ballymurphy Massacre Families

“Representatives of the Ballymurphy Massacre families met Nuala O’Loan this weekend. She was Police Ombudsman 1999 – 2007 and now sits in the House of Lords as Baroness O’Loan of Kirkinriola in the County of Antrim.

After a disappointing meeting with Owen Paterson. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. On Thursday we got on with our campaign the very next day. We told Nuala of how our loved ones were murdered in August 1971. It was a good meeting where Nuala listened very intently.

She was familiar with our campaign and search for truth. We shared with her evidence of the brutality and bloodshed and similarities with Bloody Sunday where the same Parachute Regiment murdered 14 innocent civilians.”

Relatives of those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre 9th – 11th August 1972 meet with Nuala O’Loan

For further information contact:

Troops Out Movement

Campaigning for British Withdrawal from Ireland

PO Box 1032 Birmingham B12 8BZ  Tel: 0121 773 8683 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0121 773 8683      end_of_the_skype_highlighting Mob: 0797 017 4167 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0797 017 4167      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
troopsoutmovement@btinternet.com    www.troopsoutmovement.com

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in UKComments Off on BALLYMURPHY MASSACRE

NORTHERN IRELAND: U.K ALLEGE POLICE TORTURE

NOVANEWS

These articles are long but well worth the read considering Government denials at the time and the exposures of ill treatment of prisoners in current conflicts. In the late 1970’s, 80% of prisoners in Long Kesh prison Nr. Belfast were convicted solely on confession evidence.

Hundreds of Northern Ireland ‘terrorists’ allege police torture

The Guardian 11/10/10

See also at http://www.troopsoutmovement.com/latestnews.htm

People convicted during the Troubles claim they suffered miscarriages of justice in non-jury Diplock courts

Hundreds of men and women found guilty of terrorism offences in Northern Ireland during the Troubles are attempting to have their cases reopened, alleging that the confessions that led to their convictions were beaten out of them by police.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the body that investigates alleged miscarriages, has received applications from more than 200 people who argue that they fell victim to miscarriages of justice at the province’s non-jury courts.

So far the court of appeal in Belfast has heard 26 cases referred by the commission, and has overturned convictions in 24 of those. Solicitors in Belfast and Derry say they believe many more people will be applying to the commission in the near future.

As the appeals mount, a number of men who served as detectives with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) have told the Guardian how senior officers encouraged the systematic mistreatment of suspects at Castlereagh interrogation centre in east Belfast, and elsewhere, after the establishment of the Diplock courts in 1973.

They say they took full advantage of the vague wording of emergency legislation in Northern Ireland which allowed the courts to admit confessions as evidence, providing there was no evidence they had been obtained through the use of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment. One retired detective commented: “Do repeated slaps around the face amount to torture? What about an occasional kick in the balls?” In a sign that the courts are now accepting that such tactics were an integral part of policing during the Troubles, a number of people who pleaded guilty on legal advice after signing so-called confessions have succeeded in having their convictions overturned.

In addition to the 26 cases heard by the court of appeal, a further seven cases are waiting to be heard, and 80-odd are still being considered by the CCRC. These include 47 people who were juveniles at the time of their conviction. A number of those whose convictions have been overturned have been able to establish that there were grounds to suspect that the police officers who they alleged were responsible for their own mistreatment had beaten other suspected paramilitaries.

Two men from Belfast, who were arrested in 1976 as boys aged 14 and 16, served nine years in jail after being advised to plead guilty to the murder of a Catholic accountant who was shot dead in his bed. They were able to show that their confessions did not fit with the crime scene, or the pathologist’s report on the victim’s injuries, or with statements by witnesses who heard the shots.

Another man, from Derry, confessed to a series of terrorism offences after being arrested in 1978 at the age of 16 for questioning about the murder of an RUC officer, and says he was then instructed by his lawyer to plead guilty. He has been able to show that the court ignored alibi evidence that proved he was 75 miles away inside a secure children’s home at the time that most of the crimes were committed. He had also confessed to an attempted hijacking which, a subsequent police reported showed, had never taken place.

At this man’s appeal, the court heard that after he had been sentenced to a period of borstal training his lawyer advised him against lodging an appeal on the grounds that he had received a “good result”.

Among those whose cases have been referred to the appeal court by the CCRC is a man from west Belfast who says he was forced to sign a false confession to murder after being waterboarded by soldiers from the Parachute Regiment. The commission says it has taken up the case because of doubts about “the admissibility and reliability” of the man’s confession, and says it believes “there is a real possibility” his conviction will be quashed. Some of the new evidence unearthed by the CCRC is being withheld from the man and his lawyers, however, at the insistence of the Ministry of Defence.

Almost all the men and women who are appealing were convicted by the controversial no-jury Diplock courts that heard terrorism cases in Northern Ireland between 1973 and 2007. Established after a number of jury members were intimidated and potential witnesses murdered, they could convict on the basis of a confession alone, and defendants were expected to prove any claim that a confession had been coerced.

During the course of the Troubles several police doctors came forward to complain that terrorism suspects were being beaten during interrogation, and that the courts were dismissing their expert evidence.

Eamonn McDermott, who served 16 years in jail after confessing to the murder of a Catholic RUC detective in Derry in 1977 – and whose conviction was overturned 30 years later – said: “What I find interesting is that the first time the Diplock system is scrutinised by any sort of outside agency, it starts crumbling. I think there was quite a lot of surprise at the CCRC at what was acceptable at the time.”

Few people from Northern Ireland approached the CCRC during the early years of its existence, with the result that it staged a conference in the province in 2004 aimed at raising awareness and promoting public confidence in its work. A small trickle of applications followed, but that has recently swollen.

Some of those whose convictions have already been quashed have received substantial sums in compensation. Others, however, have not, with the Northern Ireland Office arguing that there is no obligation for them to be compensated. A number are challenging this refusal through the courts.

Northern Ireland teenagers who told of beatings before murder confessions
The Guardian 11/10/10

Cases of four youths convicted and jailed for killings during the Troubles that an appeal court has since overturned

Charlie McMenamin

McMenamin was 16 when he was arrested at his home in Derry in March 1978 on suspicion of involvement in the murder of a police officer the previous month. After two days of questioning, with neither a solicitor nor another adult present, he had confessed to conspiracy to murder, several firearms offences and membership of the youth wing of the IRA.

What happened next shows the ease with which suspects could fall victim to miscarriages of justice once they were denied access to legal advice before being brought before non-jury courts empowered to convict on the basis of confessions alone. It also appears to show that some defence lawyers appeared to regard the Diplock system as a judicial juggernaut that it was futile to resist.

McMenamin consistently complained that he had been beaten, slapped and threatened, and that at one point he had been slapped to the ground where he was kicked. A medical examination midway through his first day of interrogation showed that some of his hair had been ripped out. The questioning was allowed to continue.

By the time he appeared in court there was clear evidence that he could not have committed two of the offences – including the conspiracy charge – as he was 75 miles away at the time, inside a secure children’s home. The director of public prosecutions recommended that these charges be dropped but, for reasons that remain unclear, the prosecutors pressed ahead. McMenamin had also confessed to an attempted hijacking, although a police report compiled at the time indicated that no such crime had been committed.

The court of appeal heard that his solicitor had possessed “valid evidence that [McMenamin] could not have been present” when some of the offences were committed, yet the youth was persuaded to plead guilty to all the charges he faced. The court also accepted that after McMenamin was sentenced to a period of borstal training, his solicitor advised him against appealing, as he had received a “good result”.

Today, McMenamin recalls how detectives laughed when they saw he had made some attempt to cut his wrist with a screw taken from a radiator, and remains angry that a police doctor could declare him fit enough for questioning to continue. Of one detective who repeatedly assaulted him at Strand Road police station in Derry, he says: “That man was a bully, and he was an abuser, he didn’t seem to care and he wasn’t accountable.” Of his encounter with the legal team who persuaded him to plead guilty, he says: “I found myself in the same position as I had at Strand Road, where I was pressurised into doing something I didn’t want to do.”

Eamonn McDermott

McDermott was arrested in 1977 for questioning about the murder of an RUC detective gunned down in Derry. He was 19, working as a petrol-pump attendant while waiting to go to university, and was accused of tipping off IRA gunmen that the constable, a Catholic with two small children, would be calling at the garage to have his car repaired. McDermott says he was abused and beaten over the next two days while being interrogated by teams of detectives.

He says he eventually agreed to sign a confession – knowing it would probably lead to a long prison sentence – because he was so desperate for the beatings to end. At trial, however, the judge rejected his defence that his confession had been beaten out of him. He was convicted of murder and membership of the IRA solely on the basis of that confession, and jailed for life.

After serving more than 15 years, McDermott was released and began working as a journalist, eventually becoming editor of a Derry newspaper. More than a quarter of a century after he was convicted, the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) took up his case, and unearthed damning new information about one of the detectives who had extracted his confession.

The commission found that a judge had ruled in 1979 that there was evidence that the officer had assaulted another man during an interrogation a month before McDermott was arrested. The CCRC also found that prosecutors had considered bringing a case against this same officer after a third man, questioned at Castlereagh a few days after McDermott’s arrest, was so severely beaten that he needed hospital treatment.

Looking back to the years he spent in prison, McDermott says: “There was obviously major changes. My parents had got much older. You didn’t see it in the visits every month, but when you get out, 15 years is a long time for them too. People laugh when you talk about it because there was the simple things like walking on uneven surfaces: jail’s very flat, it’s all concrete and Tarmac, so walking on surfaces where there was cracks and bumps, I was near breaking my neck.”

McDermott believes people in Northern Ireland were slow to develop confidence in the commission. “Once the CCRC was set up, it took people time to take interest in it,” he says. “There was no seeking redress through legal channels before that. And what I find interesting is that the first time the Diplock system was scrutinised by any outside agency, it started crumbling. I think there was quite a degree of surprise at the CCRC at what acceptable at the time. And I think that shows how rotten the Diplock system was.”

Robert Hindes and Hugh Hanna

One of the most tragic cases to reach the appeal court in Belfast has been that of Hindes and Hanna, who were 14 and 16 when they were arrested in October 1976.

Hindes was arrested first and questioned about the murder six weeks earlier of Peter Johnston, 28, a Catholic accountant who had been shot dead by loyalist gunmen at his home in north Belfast. Within hours he confessed, and named his accomplice as a Robert Hanna. Hanna was arrested and also confessed.

Both boys pleaded guilty and each served a total of nine years behind bars.

When Hanna applied to the commission in 1997 he was rejected on the grounds that he had not appealed against his conviction. Nevertheless, an assistant chief constable of the RUC agreed to examine the case, and told the commission of his concerns. Both boys said they suffered physical and psychological abuse.

In their confessions, they said they forced open Johnston’s front door a little after 11pm, went upstairs and shot him from his bedroom door as he lay on his bed. But they confessed before the pathologist had completed his report, which said Johnston had been beaten for around 30 minutes before he was killed by a shot from a gun held very close to his right eye. The time of death was put at around 3am.

There were suspicions that the killers had actually broken in through a first-floor window, rather than the front door. The fact that soldiers nearby reported hearing the shots at 3am was withheld from the defence.

On the night of the murder, according to Hanna’s father, he was being kept at home to protect him from Protestant youths who had threatened him because of his friendship with Catholics. Three days after the murder, these youths had attacked him, and he spent three weeks in hospital being treated for injuries that proved permanent. While being interrogated he was denied the medication he had been prescribed.

The appeal court also heard evidence that when Hindes “confessed” that his accomplice was a Robert Hanna, he had been referring to a different boy of the same name.

Three decades later, both convictions were overturned. A few hours before their appeal began, Hanna was found hanged at his home in Northamptonshire.

For further information contact:

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