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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 23 April, 2014

Special Criminal Court trial ‘did not violate human rights’ of IRA member

Kenneth Donohoe claimed his right to a fair trial was not upheld by the Special Criminal Court. The European Court of Human Rights did not agree.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

THE EUROPEAN COURT of Human Rights has ruled that the Special Criminal Court did not violate his human rights of a man accused of being a member of the IRA.

The court said today that Kenneth Donohoe’s right to a fair trial, as outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights, was not violated.

He was convicted of being a member of the IRA based on evidence given by the Chief Superintendent of the gardaí in 2004. During the trial, he said he believed Donohoe was a member of the IRA but did not identify the sources of such a belief during open sessions.

He claimed privilege, stating that disclosure would endanger lives and State security. However, the presiding judges asked him to provide documentary evidence which backed up his claim in court.

Neither the prosecution or defence were given access to the files, a fact that Donohoe said rendered his trial unfair.

The ECtHR found against the applicant because the Special Criminal Court upheld the non-disclosure of sources for the “legitimate purpose of protecting human life and State security”. It also said the decision to convict was made for other reasons as well and that a number of safeguards had been put in place to ensure the non-disclosure of sources did not undermine proceedings.

The case

Donohoe was arrested in October 2002 after gardaí noticed suspicious activity among three vehicles in Corke Abbey housing estate in Dublin. During a search of a Transit van and Nissan Almera car, they found balaclavas, gardaí costumes, a stun gun and CS gas.

He was sentenced to four years in jail in November 2004.

Download: The full ruling here>

More: Human rights training course launched for prison staff

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