Germany under pressure over McAliskey case

May 7, 1997

Germany under pressure over McAliskey case

Pressure is building on the German government to drop a spurious extradition case against Roisin McAliskey, daughter of prominent Irish nationalist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey.

Eight months pregnant, Roisin is held without charge for extradition related to the June 1996 IRA mortar attack on an empty British army barracks in Osnabruck, Germany. No credible evidence has been presented in the case, which is widely perceived to be a vindictive British witch-hunt against the McAliskey family.

On April 9, Roisin attended another bail hearing in a wheelchair due to deteriorating health. Meanwhile, her unborn child has developed an irregular heartbeat. Neither mother nor child are receiving appropriate health care, according to campaigners,

Yet the court again denied her bail as a possible "fugitive offender", even as the case against her crumbles. The key German prosecution witness has denied identifying Roisin from photos. German attorney Elke Nils, acting for Roisin, is expected to bring legal proceedings in Germany this week in order to quash the extradition request, and is seeking access to evidence so far withheld from lead attorney Gareth Peirce.

Meanwhile, two leading European human rights organisations have joined the campaign for Roisin's release on bail. The Society for Threatened Peoples and the International Progress Organisation last week appealed to German foreign minister Klaus Kinkel to agree to the immediate release of Roisin on bail.

"It is inhumane and hard-hearted to hold the seven-month pregnant 25-year-old any longer in London's Holloway jail", explained the Society for Threatened Peoples's federal chairperson, Tilman Zulch.

"The British government must be signalled that Germany does not maintain that Roisin McAliskey must remain in jail.

"It is a scandal that the 25-year old has been held ... in humiliating and torturous conditions under the highest security category A, although still today there is no concrete indictment from Karlsruhe."

US members of Congress have written to both the British and German ambassadors in Washington urging bail for Roisin.

Roisin's sister Deirdre has been in the US meeting with Irish-American activists and a petition drive has been mounted by the San Francisco-based Roisin McAliskey Justice Campaign in advance of extradition proceedings, which begin on May 6.

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