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20 February 1997 Edition

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Germany accused over McAliskey

By Eoin O'Broin

The Roisín McAliskey Justice Group has accused the German government of ``gross and cynical hypocrisy'' following the denial of bail to her at a court hearing in London last Thursday 12 February.

McAliskey, who is almost seven months pregnant, has been on remand since 20 November last year. Imprisoned without access to exercise, she suffers from asthma, a stomach ulcer and malnutrition and is being strip searched twice a day.

After last Thursday's hearing, Mark McLarnon of the Justice Group said that senior German embassy officials in London and Dublin had repeatedly given unequivocal assurances that the German government did not and would not oppose bail. ``They insisted that responsibility for the decision to refuse bail rests exclusively with the British''.

However, shortly after the bail hearing began, the German state's legal representative Arvinber Sambei declared that she had been instructed to oppose bail. When the hearing ended, German embassy officials reverted to disclaiming all responsibility for the decision.

``Either the statements made by the embassy officials are totally dishonest and designed simply to diffuse the pressure of public opinion or the German authorities have already found Roisín guilty without trial, and are willing to ride roughshod over all considerations of humanity and justice, while diverting responsibility to the British,'' Mark McLarnon said.

Mary O'Rourke TD, Fianna Fáil's Deputy Leader visited Roisín McAliskey last week along with TD Eamon O'Cuiv and added her voice to the widespread public concerns being expressed.

Gerry Adams described the court decision as ``cruel and vindictive'' and called for McAliskey's immediate release. ``The conditions under which she is being held, in particular the British refusal to provide proper medical care and the inhuman practice of strip searching her twice a day, is evidence of the British government's punitive approach to all Irish political prisoners'', Adams said.

Irish MEP Patricia McKenna and German MEP Claudia Roth tabled a motion on behalf of the Green Group in the European Parliament calling on the German authorities to lift their objection to bail. The motion also demands the British authorities immediately transfer McAliskey to hospital, provide her with proper medical attention, and that they remove all threats to shackle her while she gives birth or to take her baby from her.

The Committee on the Administration of Justice have called on people to write to the German government requesting that they withdraw their opposition to bail.

As An Phoblacht goes to press, Tánaiste Dick Spring has called in the British Ambassador, Veronica Sutherland, to express concern about McAliskey's case.
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