Stephen Murney case: delays, strip-searches and harassment
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The article below first appeared on the éirígí site
An extremely damp and dismal day was the setting in Newry last Wednesday [October 2] as the latest chapter in the ongoing saga in the imprisonment of éirígí member Stephen Murney took place.
Despite heavy rain showers, over forty members and supporters of the socialist republican party were joined by Stephen’s partner, parents and other relatives as they held an hour-long protest outside Newry court-house.
The PSNI continuously monitored and video-recorded all those taking part in the protest.
Later, as the prison van carrying Stephen from Maghaberry arrived, the PSNI quickly re-directed the van to a seldom-used side entrance to the court rather than rather have the van drive past the protest at the main entrance.
Although the prosecution service had been instructed by a court six weeks beforehand to be ready for a committal hearing on Wednesday, papers relating to the case were only served on Stephen late on the Tuesday before the case. The delay was clearly designed to leave insufficient time for Stephen and his defence team to properly examine all the documents relating to the case.
The actual court hearing was also delayed for over one and half hours due to the late arrival of the prosecutor in the case.
During the short hearing, which was adjourned until Tuesday 15th October when full legal submissions in relation to the case will be heard, defence solicitor Peter Corrigan made a formal protest to the court regarding the behaviour of the PSNI in the court-house that morning.
Mr Corrigan stated that PSNI personnel had video-recorded three elected Leinster House TDs as they spoke with members of Stephen Murney’s family inside the court-house and requested that his protest be formally entered in the court record.
The three TDs – Clare Daly, Maureen O’Sullivan and Mick Wallace – had attended the court to observe proceedings in the case. One of the TDs had also directly challenged the PSNI as to the legality of recording what was essentially a confidential conversation between the three parliamentarians and Stephen’s partner and parents.
Later on Wednesday afternoon, on returning to Dublin, Clare Daly TD raised Stephen’s case during question time in Leinster House with Coalition minister Eamon Gilmore.
After the court hearing, as Stephen was led from the court-room which was packed to full capacity, he was loudly applauded by his family and supporters.
It has also since emerged that Stephen was forcibly strip-searched twice in Maghaberry prison as he was taken to court and then again on his return from prison.
From the time he was transported from prison until his return, Stephen had been hand-cuffed at all times and was guarded by several prison warders and heavily armed PSNI personnel. He remained hand-cuffed throughout the short court hearing and was continuously flanked by several prison warders. At no time was there the remotest possibility of Stephen having any contact with members of his family or the public.
Given those circumstances, there could be no justification for strip-searching him other than that of malice and vindictiveness. The continued use of strip-searching has been widely condemned by a number of international human rights organisations who have described the practice as inhuman, degrading and a violation of the individual.
Speaking after the court case, éirígí’s Breandán Mac Cionnaith said, “Stephen Murney has now been imprisoned for ten months on the basis of extremely spurious and concocted charges. All those who have studied and examined the background to these charges have concluded that there is no case to answer.
“However, the PSNI, the prosecution and the court system in the Six Counties have successfully colluded with each other to ensure that Stephen has now been imprisoned for almost a year.
“Wednesday’s hearing again resulted in yet more unacceptable delays with the dual purpose of prolonging Stephen’s imprisonment and penalising his family.
“Despite all this, Stephen and his family remain in good spirits and remain confident that he will be completely vindicated of those charges laid against him.”
Posted on October 8, 2013, in 21st century republicanism and socialism, éirígí, British state repression (general), Censorship, Democratic rights - general, Irish politics today, Partition, Prisoners - current, Public events - Ireland, Repression and resistance in the six counties today. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Stephen Murney case: delays, strip-searches and harassment.
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