Republican to take case to Europe

The first photograph taken of Martin Corey in over two years, as he left the gates of Maghaberry Prison to attend his brother's funeral in May 2012. INLM2912-002con

The first photograph taken of Martin Corey in over two years, as he left the gates of Maghaberry Prison to attend his brother's funeral in May 2012. INLM2912-002con

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LAWYERS are to challenge the detention of an Irish republican from Lurgan in the European court.

Martin Corey, 63, has been in prison for over three years without a trial, and with no charges being brought.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1973 for the IRA murders of two RUC officers.

He was released on licence in 1992, but just over three years ago his licence was revoked and he was returned to prison.

He was told he was being sent back to prison because he was considered a risk to the public.

But neither Martin Corey, a member of Republican Sinn Fein, nor his legal team have been told why he is considered to be a risk.

His lawyers are now taking the case to the European Court.

The Northern Ireland Office points out that Martin Corey’s life licence was revoked by the Secretary of State following a recommendation by an independent Parole Commissioner.

When his case was referred to the Parole Commissioners in 2011, they could have directed his release if they “were satisfied that it was no longer necessary for the protection of the public from serious harm that he should be confined to prison”.

They refused to direct his release, saying they were not satisfied that his detention was no longer necessary for the protection of the public.

During hearings held by the commissioners, an unidentified witness gave evidence from behind a curtain and Martin Corey’s legal team were not given details of any allegations against him.

But a Special Advocate chosen by Mr Corey’s legal team to represent him in the closed proceedings had full access to the material and the opportunity to cross examine witnesses.

In July last year, a judge ruled that Martin Corey’s detention was a breach of the Human Rights Act and said he should be released on unconditional bail.

But that decision was overturned after an appeal by the secretary of state, when the Court of Appeal ruled that the material provided to Mr Corey in support of his licence revocation met the relevant case law standards.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court in London refused permission for Martin Corey’s lawyers to challenge the decision by the Court of Appeal.

His lawyers are now preparing to take his case to the European court. His solicitor, Peter Murphy, said he was being denied the right to a fair trial.

“It’s like internment all over again in the sense that he hasn’t been given the chance to defend his position,” Mr Murphy said.

“When we ask questions about the nature of the allegations and evidence against our client we are told nothing.

“In any criminal court you can meet your accuser, you have a chance to cross-examine them, and you have a chance to defend yourself because you’re given the detail of what the allegations are against you.

“We don’t have any of that, so our client is in a very difficult situation in that he’s sitting in prison not knowing why he’s there.”

The case is being followed closely by human rights group the Committee on the Administration of Justice.

Brian Gormally, the CAJ director, said it supported the decision to take the case to the European Court.

“We are concerned about it because Martin Corey is being held on the basis of secret evidence that he is unable to challenge, that is basically an affront to the rule of law in our view,” he said.

“The European Convention of Human Rights says nobody should be detained without a proper court hearing. In our view, secret, closed material proceedings are not proper court proceedings.” A spokeswoman for the NIO said Martin Corey’s case is being reviewed again by the Parole Commissioners as part of their normal review processes.

His lawyers have challenged the Secretary of State to bring charges against him to allow details of the allegations he faces to be heard in open court.