6 March 1997 Edition

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Tyrone man fights deportation

In a packed Manhattan courtroom on Thursday 25 Feburary, Clogher man Brian Pearson who is facing deportation from the United States over his past IRA activities, took the witness stand. Throughout the 10 hour testimony Pearson, with obvious distress, gave an account of the atrocities in the Six Counties during the 1970s which led to his politicisation and active involvement in the republican movement.

He also outlined to the court the events leading up to his arrest and claimed that he received numerous British army interrogations in Omagh, during at least one of which he was repeatedly struck on the back of the head . He said he became dizzy and disorientated and after two days of little food or sleep a gun was held to his head and cocked. At that stage he told his interrogators ``write whatever you want and I'll sign it''. These original statements with typed signatures were produced in the court, with Martin Galvin, Pearson's attorney, mocking the absurdity of the ``unbelievable contradictions and phrases'' which they contain.

In a letter to the court Cardinal O'Connor of New York asked that discretion be exercised in Pearson's favour, seeing as his offences were ``political and not criminal''.

The hearing is expected to continue on 21 March.

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