The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Fair Trial Not A Farcical Travesty

Bernadette Sands McKevitt 18 January, 2003

Over the last number of weeks I have observed with great interest the criticisms of the Colombian trial of three Irish Citizens by eminent Irish politicians, human rights activists and international observers. The main criticisms being the length of custody - sixteen months, the failure of the prosecution to deliver crucial evidence, specifically key witnesses and whether or not these men could be guaranteed a fair trial owing to the public statements of senior politicians including the president of Colombia.

Irish politicians Finian McGrath, John Curran, and Senator Paul Bradford and Paul Hill — one of the Guildford four all agreed that it is doubtful if these men can get a fair trial and that the length of time — sixteen months in custody — is too long.

Catriona Ruane, spokesperson for the ‘Bring them Home’ campaign described the proceedings as a “travesty of justice,” claiming that if this trial had happened in any other country in the world, these men would be coming home.

Colombia is a long way from Dublin, Ireland, however, the criticisms voiced so forcefully by all concerned could be echoed equally in the case of my husband, Michael McKevitt.

On March 28th 2001, my husband and I were arrested at our home. When in custody my husband was informed by a Detective Inspector that his arrest had been a political decision and that he was being “stitched up”. After being questioned for thirty-six hours I was released. However, my husband was charged with membership and directing an illegal organization — namely the IRA — the latter carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. These charges were levelled at my husband Michael Mc Kevitt on the word of one person — David Rupert, who is an American citizen of dubious character. My husband has been held on remand in Portlaoise Prison for almost two years.

At a recent preliminary court hearing it was disclosed that David Rupert worked for both the FBI and MI5. Mr. Rupert has been promised a “resettlement payment” of three million dollars from the FBI and an undisclosed amount from MI5 (believed to be in the region of £2.5million) on completion of his testimony. In addition to this, an outstanding IRS debt of 700,000 dollars was reduced and settled for 25,000 in November 2001. It was revealed that this self-confessed criminal had been deployed to the Republic of Ireland by the FBI and MI5 without the knowledge of the Irish authorities.

Prior to my husband’s arrest, my family were demonised and vilified on a continual basis by the media. It became commonplace that all sections of the media felt they could say what they liked about our family and my husband in particular. This trial by media included publishing front-page photographs with the intention of identifying our young children. This unprecedented, co-ordinated media onslaught, which continues to this day, has ensured that my husband’s name is constantly connected with the Omagh bomb. My husband has never been questioned nor charged with any offence relating to this tragedy.

It gives me great strength to know that there are individuals and human rights groups who are prepared to travel long distances to ensure that justice is seen to be done. The Irish Government has been a champion of human rights throughout the world, however, at a recent preliminary hearing, our legal team were refused important disclosure documents. This decision is a direct breach of Irish law and has ensured that my husband will not be able to defend himself and the court case will have a foregone conclusion.

In conclusion, my family asks for no more than that awarded to any other Irish citizen - the right to a fair trial and presumption of innocence. We feel that the co-ordinated media attention and the failure of the authorities to disclose important information has seriously damaged my husband’s chances of getting a fair trial.

We are also asking international observers to attend the trial, which is currently scheduled to be held in Dublin’s non-jury Special Criminal court on 11th February 2003. Your support in ensuring his right to justice and a fair trial would be greatly appreciated.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

19 January 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Fair Trial Not a Farcical Travesty
Bernadette Sands McKevitt


For Whom the Bells Toll
Anthony McIntyre


The Republic: Of Connolly, of Costello, of Kearney and Campbell

Terry Harkin


O Bradaigh versus Adams
Classicism versus Historical Consciousness

Father Sean Mc Manus


Beyond the Border
Annie Higgins


17 January 2003


No Rights For Humans
Anthony McIntyre


The Fight For America's Soul

Julie Brown


The Bloody Streets of New York
Mike Davis


The Left Betrays the Iraqi People by Opposing War
Nick Cohen


Missive To America
Annie Higgins


The Letters page has been updated.




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