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2 October 1997 Edition

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McAliskey case in stalemate

By Fern Lane

The extradition case against Roísín McAliskey appears to have reached a stalemate after the latest hearing at Bow Street Court on Tuesday. The magistrate Nicholas Evans said that although he is prepared to grant an extradition order against her, he will not do so until she appears in court herself.

Since the birth of her daughter, Roísín has been too ill to attend any hearings and is still in the mother and baby unit of the Maudsley psychiatric hospital in London.

The magistrate adjourned the case until 9 October, despite being informed that even with the best possible care and medical help, Roísín will not be fit enough to withstand the further trauma of a court appearance for at least eighteen months.

The decision was also made against the wishes of both prosecution and defence lawyers who are anxious to process matters. Roísín's inability to attend court was described by the prosecution as merely "a slight logistical problem".

The ruling means that the case is stuck in the Magistrates Court with the prospect of repeated adjournments for at least a year and a half, and consequently that Roisin's extradition cannot be challenged in House of Lords or through a judicial review.

Now, even if any extradition order is ultimately overturned, Roísín still faces the prospect of remaining on bail and unable to go home to Ireland until perhaps mid-1999, by which time her daughter Lonnir will be two years old. A change in extradition law also meant that Roísín's defence could not argue, as they would have, that there is no prima facie case for her to answer.

Outside the court, which was picketed by Fuascailt and the Britain and Ireland Human Rights Centre, Bernadette McAliskey bitterly criticised the magistrate's insistence on Roísín appearing in person, saying "She's not coming. This is getting crazier by the minute - now we cannot get out of this court".

She reiterated that there is no sustainable evidence against Roísín and that further unnecessary delays in resolving the case will have an even more detrimental effect on her health.

Bernadette also questioned whether the magistrate had fully comprehended the seriousness of Roísín's condition, and reminded the assembled media that her daughter "is not suffering from flu, or a slight headache, but from very severe post traumatic stress" brought about by her treatment, both in Castlereagh interrogation centre where she was taunted by the police about the loyalist shooting of her parents, and by the fact that she was "absolutely terrorised" during her incarceration in Holloway prison throughout the pregnancy.

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