17 April 1997 Edition

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Double standard on transfers

By Stephen Delaney

The British Home Secetary's treatment of POWs Paul Kavanagh and Thomas Quigley was described as mental torture by Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly, after both men were refused permanant transfer from Full Suttton jail in England.

Both men were sentenced in the Old Bailey in 1985 for IRA bomb attacks in London and are currently fighting a `natural life' sentence in Long Kesh after their temporary transfer from Full Sutton in 1994.

In their appeal on Wednesday 9 April both men were refused permanant transfer. In a reserved judgement Judge Kerr said that according to the Home Office, the tariff set by Home Secretary Michael Howard was `whole life'. Campaigners for the men believe that the main reason for Howard blocking their transfer is to ensure they don't serve less than the whole life recommended by the Home Office. In a letter used at the initial hearing last year an NIO official speculated that permanent transfer would mean Kavanagh and Quigley serving between 20 and 25 years. Kerr said that the Home Secretary adopted an inconsistent approach to the applicants' cases comparted other cases but he still dismissed their applications.

Kavanagh's legal team described the decision as draconian, saying it was like putting a living death sentence on the men.

The case was in sharp contrast to that of unionst politican and UVF gunrunner Lindsay Robb. Last year Robb was jailed in Scotland for ten years for his part in a UVF gunrruning plot but on Wedensday April 9 the was transferred to Maghaberry Prison.

Sinn Fein spokesperson Gerry Kelly described the Robb case as exposing the double standards of the British Home Office:

``By normal standards the transfer of Lindsay Robb was remarkly quick. While accepting that Lindsay Robb has as much right as anyone to transfer to a jail closer to home it would seem that a great deal more urgency was applied by officials processing his application than has been the case for other other Irish prisoners.''

Meanwhile in another case of British injustice, the Court of Appeal is set to rule within weeks on the admissibility of crucial evidence concerning the conviction of Patrick Kane, one of the Casement Accused.

West Belfastman Kane (40) was one of over 200 people originally arrested for the killings of two British soldiers in West Belfast on 19 March1988. Despite having a mental age of 11 and being unable to read or write Kane was convicted in a Belfast court to two life sentences for murder in 1989 along with Michael Timmons and Sean Kelly .

Solicitors and campaigners including Ammnesty International, Committee On The Administration Of Justice (CAJ) who have worked for the release of the three welcomed the latest development but are outraged that the cases of Timmons and Kelly would not be reconsidered.

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