IRA suspects who fled to avoid being prosecuted for alleged terrorist acts committed before the Peace Accords of 1998 Good Friday could be tried despite that once received written assurances from the British police and had no outstanding accounts with them. That is the conclusion that the British Government has come after publicizing the independent inquiry into the matter conducted by the lady judge Justice Sweeney.
The judge concluded that the letters sent to the fugitives were legal but that was not an amnesty program. Also concluded that it was a mistake to take it out but there was no bad faith. And, although launched very discreetly and ” under the radar ” to the point that the families of the victims did not know that the alleged murderers were no longer wanted by the police, there was a secret program.
In short, a long series of almost contradictory findings often looking not give nor take away every reason to traditionally either party to the conflict in Northern Ireland, although primarily responsible for all the British Government.
London has taken the report and all its conclusions. And the British minister for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, has come to turn to the conclusion that, as it was not an amnesty and the fugitives ” had received no carte blanche to escape prison,” remain objective forces police. ” The Government has always made clear that if sufficient evidence shows, in this case the fugitives are individually liable to be arrested and prosecuted in the usual way,” said Villiers in the Commons. ” I repeat again today for people who have those cards. It will not protect you from arrest and prosecution and will subject to due process, “he added.
The minister said the government has yet to decide whether, for legal reasons, inform the fugitives who received those letters that your situation has changed or may change.
The agreements of 1998 ensured that all those convicted of acts of terrorism prior to peace agreements would be released within two years, but did not resolve the situation of 187 terrorist suspects who fled before trial. To facilitate the decommissioning of IRA arsenals, the British Government pledged in 2000 to turn a blind eye to the fugitives and in 2005 began to send individual letters guaranteeing that were no longer wanted.
Everything went to hell last February, when John Downey, one of the accused in the bomb that killed four British soldiers in Hyde Park in 1982, to the letter to avoid prosecution availed, forcing London to instruct the judge Sweeney a report to clarify the issue. Downey, in any case, may not be tried due to other legal reasons.