The High Court has ordered the extradition of a man suspected of being involved in a Provisional IRA mortar attack on a British army barracks in Germany 20 years ago.
High court judge Ms Aileen Donnelly today delivered her judgement granting the State’s application for the extradition of James Anthony Oliver Albert Corry.
The 47-year-old who was born in Belfast was arrested in Killorglin, in October 2015 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities in 2004.
Mr Corry is suspected of involvement in a Provisional IRA attack in Osnabruck, Germany in 1996 in which three mortar shells were fired at a British army barracks.
Delivering her judgement today, Ms Justice Donnelly said that there is nothing “oppressive or discriminatory” about the respondent being sought to face trial and punishment in the same manner as any other person who is alleged to have committed an offence of attempted murder in Germany.
The judge said that although the Court had regard to the “significant culpable delay” in seeking the surrender of the respondent, the public interest in his prosecution for this alleged organised offence of attempted murder through the use of explosives was “not thereby diminished.”
“Furthermore, the Court observes that the availability of early release under the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement is a matter that can only be assessed by the Minister for Justice and Equality after a conviction.
“Even in this jurisdiction, any trial and sentence he would face would be that of a maximum of life imprisonment. The Court must, and does, proceed on the basis that this is a sentence of life imprisonment that the respondent is facing if convicted of the offence alleged against him,” she said.
The court heard that the public interest in his surrender outweighed any inference in his private and family life.
“His personal circumstances are unremarkable and no particular injurious, harmful or prejudicial consequences are evident,” she said.
Ms Justice Donnelly said the court took into account that Mr Corry spent four months in custody in this jurisdiction on the first extradition request and that this is a second request made after some considerable period of culpable delay.
“The fact that this is a second request and that there has been a period in custody are not in themselves matters that prevent surrender. The Court also takes into account that this particular respondent, as time went by, was no doubt of the belief that he would not be sought for surrender or prosecution for this alleged offence,” she said.
The above factors were not of such importance that “would make it disproportionate to surrender him to face trial for this serious crime of violence alleged against him”, the court heard.
Ms Justice Donnelly said the surrender of this respondent would not amount to a “disproportionate interference” with his right to respect for his family and personal rights under the Constitution or under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Ms Justice Donnelly then made an order directing that Mr Corry be surrendered to Germany.
In October Counsel for Mr Corry, Remy Farrell SC, accused the federal authorities of “culpable negligence” for waiting for more than ten years to pursue his client’s arrest warrant.
Mr Farrell said that the Germans had engaged in “finger-pointing” at the gardai and the Irish state and failed to explain why they did not act on information given to them by gardai back in 2005.
Mr Corry was placed on the international Wanted List in 2004 and in May 2005 gardai contacted German authorities to tell them he was living in Kerry.
The German prosecutor’s next move came this year when a European Arrest Warrant was issued and gardai executed it in October.
Mr Farrell said at the time: “This is a delay of truly exceptional proportions,” adding: “It is unconscionable that a party to such proceedings would refuse to give an explanation for a ten-year delay.”
Mr Farrell also said that under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, were Mr Corry to be found guilty of the offence in Ireland or the UK he would be released within two years. However, in Germany, he could face life imprisonment if found guilty.
This, he said, was “oppressive” and unfair in circumstances where another person extradited to the UK for a similar offence would face a maximum of two years in prison.
Representing the Minister for Justice, Sean Guerin SC said the alleged offence was “very serious” and therefore the public interest could never be described as insignificant, regardless of any delay by the Germans.
Regarding Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, he said it did not apply in this case because there were no exceptional family circumstances that required Mr Corry to remain in Ireland.
He added that there was nothing discriminatory regarding the possibility of life imprisonment in Germany versus two years in the UK for a similar offence. “He would be treated in the same way as anyone else in that jurisdiction,” he said.
Mr Corry was remanded in custody today until November 21 with consent to bail.