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Bank prosecution driven by political consideration

9 October, 2008


Commenting on the collapse of the Northern Bank robbery trial, Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey said that the decision to prosecute Chris Ward was 'clearly driven by political considerations rather than justice or evidence'.

Mr Maskey said:

"This is the latest in a line of high profile prosecutions which have collapsed when put under scrutiny in court. It is clear that this prosecution, like others before, including miscarriages of justice, were driven by political considerations rather than justice or evidence. This case was about trying to prove a political theory about who was responsible for this robbery. It was not about finding those who were responsible.

"This young man and his family were put through a terrible ordeal which was then compounded by the media witch hunt against him and the decision to charge him with a crime he had nothing to do with. It seems that the evidence against Mr Ward consisted of the fact that he was a Catholic living in West Belfast.

"What this case also exposes is the need for democratic local accountability over not just policing but over all aspects of the criminal justice system who came together to drive forward this bogus prosecution. This case underlines the need for powers over these matters being transferred. That will mean proper scrutiny of the workings of these institutions and individuals ensuring that in future prosecutions take place on the basis of evidence and not because of the needs of any particular political agenda." ENDS

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