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20 November 1997 Edition

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McAliskey - one year imprisoned

It is exactly one year today since Roisin McAliskey was arrested at her Coalisland home and imprisoned on foot of an extradition warrant from Germany. When initially cautioned, however, the 1996 IRA mortar attack on the British military base in Osnabruck, Germany (the subject of the extradition warrant) was never mentioned to her nor has she ever been charged with any offence by either the German or British authorities.

And over the year of her imprisonment the evidence, mainly identification evidence, supporting Germany's extradition claim has been undermined.

An international inquiry headed by former US attorney General, Ramsey Clarke found that ``Germany has no evidence''. Four German eyewitnesses have since said Ms McAliskey is not the woman they identified at the Sandhatten house said to be a safe house used by the IRA and work records place Ms McAliskey in West Belfast on dates when she was supposed to have been in Germany.

These facts have not even been looked at by the German police or the RUC. It has since been discovered that the extradition request came not from Germany but was initiated by the RUC.

Only bailed to a secure hospital three days before the birth of her baby daughter Loinnir on 26 May, Roisin's `ray of light' faces the prospect of her first Christmas imprisoned by the British. Roisin sits, rarely parted from Loinnir, in a secure baby and mother unit in a psychiatric hospital in Kent. Too ill to attend the magistrates' court and left in limbo, a cruel ruling by stipendary magistrate Nicholas Evans leaves her unable to fight the extradition order.

The Roisin McAliskey Justice Group which has published a newsheet to coincide with Ms McAliskey's first year in prison have highlighted the fact that Roisin was interrogated for six days at Castlereagh interrogation centre in Belfast while pregnant and in ill health. Her inhumane treatment in English prisons - the solitary confinement and repeated strip searches. The lack of evidence against her and the degrading and cruelty she suffered. The group are asking people to ring the NIO - (01232) 520700 or the British Embassy, Dublin (003531) 2053700 on Thursday 20 asking Jack Straw, as British Home Secretary, to intervene and release Roisin.
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