Friday 23 August 2019

Alleged IRA bomber fails in extradition appeal

‘Comfort letter’: John Downey is fighting extradition. PIC: Collins Courts
‘Comfort letter’: John Downey is fighting extradition. PIC: Collins Courts

Ruaidhrí Giblin

An alleged IRA bomber given a so-called "comfort letter" by former UK prime minister Tony Blair's government has lost his latest challenge aimed at preventing his extradition to Northern Ireland for the 1972 Enniskillen bombing.

Northern Irish authorities are seeking to extradite John Downey (67) to face prosecution for the murder of two British soldiers as well as aiding and abetting the causing of an explosion on August 25, 1972. Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston and Private James Eames were killed when a device exploded in a vehicle they were checking in Cherrymount, Enniskillen.

Mr Downey was arrested last November at his home in Creeslough, Co Donegal, on foot of a European arrest warrant.

The High Court in Dublin ordered Mr Downey's extradition in March, and the Court of Appeal upheld that decision yesterday. Mr Downey's lawyers indicated an appeal to the Supreme Court will be made.

Mr Justice Peart said the prosecution of Mr Downey for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, in which four soldiers and seven horses were killed, collapsed in February 2014 on the basis it amounted to an abuse of process. Crucial to the finding of an abuse of process in London was a "letter of comfort" dated July 20, 2007.

Mr Justice Peart said the letter, and the finding of an abuse of process in London, was "at the heart" of Mr Downey's contention he shouldn't be extradited. However, for the High Court to refuse surrender on the basis of an abuse of process, Mr Justice Peart said the abuse must exist in the processes of the High Court in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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