Give us a little background about yourself and your role in the Craigavon Two Campaighn.
Hi Im Packy Carty a former Irish Republican Prisoner I was held for nine months in Maghaberry interned by remand, the state released me never once showing a shred of evidence to back up their claims. During my time in Maghaberry I became friends with Brendan McConville & John Paul Wootton now better known as the Craigavon 2, I had followed their case closely and became intimately aware of the case having read the case against them first hand while incarcerated with them. It seemed their was nothing linking either men to the charges they were facing and all the POWs expected the case to be thrown out at trial unfortunately they where both sentenced to life by a non jury diplock court
Who are the Craigavon Two and why are they in Jail
Brendan and John Paul are two Irish Republicans from Craigavon in County Armagh, John Paul has a love of Irish music and enjoys reading books on socialism and has taken to studying economics while in Jail. Brendan McConville is a fluent Irish speaker who teaches the native language to other prisoners he has learned the guitar and enjoys making handy crafts. He was once elected as a councillor for the Craigavon area soft spoken he enjoys debating and reading. In 2009 the CIRA killed a member of the PSNI in a sniper attack in Craigavon. In the aftermath both Brendan and John Paul where taken from their homes interrogated for 16 days, charged with murder and remanded to Maghaberry Jail.
Tell us a little bit about there trial and evidence used against them
The trial took place in a highly charged atmosphere where the politicians and media were demanding retribution, at
the same time prominent Irish Republican Colin Duffy was being tried for the IRA killing of two British Soldiers
in Antrim and the case against him was also sinister. The case against the Craigavon 2 centred around four strands of so called evidence the brown jacket DNA, the brown jacket residue, Witness M and a British Army Mi5 tracking device.
When Brendan and John Paul where taken for interrogation by the PSNI, they seized Woottons car, in the car they found a brown jacket with a number of DNA profiles one of which belonged to Brendan McConville also on the jacket was a firearms type residue. It was proved beyond doubt that the residue did not come from an AK 47 which was the weapon used in the shooting. The Amount of DNA on the brown jacket could have been innocently placed by a sneeze or a slight touch. Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton were friends and Brendan had been in the car before.
Yet the crown prosecution were trying to say that the coat belonged to McConville and was used in the shooting even though the forensics disproved this theory
11 months after the shooting and after Brendan and John Paul had been through the newspaper’s and media a man known only as witness M phoned the PSNI in the middle of the night while drunk and said he could identify those involved in the shooting. Despite being a vulnerable person this man became the key part of the prosecution case he said he had seen Brendan near the scene if the shooting that night, it later transpired in court that his eyewitness testimony was clinically impossible as he was severely short sighted he lied openly in court about his eyesight.
It emerged that on the night of the shooting the British Army most probably at the behest of Mi5 where tracking Woottons car using a covert device when the device was examined after Woottons car was sized half of the Data was purposely deleted, yet despite this destruction of evidence the device was accepted as evidence in ghe court the remainder of the data said that 15min following the shooting Woottons car lwft a nearby housing estate, the state claimed that he was a getaway driver for the gunmen, but all this showed was 15 min after the shooting John Paul was casualy driving through the area where he lived
Despite these loose and in no way incriminating strands of so called evidence the single judge sitting in a non jury court found both men guilty of the killing and sentenced them to life
It was then member of both the mens families and friends began writing to people for help everyone including senior lawyers who had followed the case believed it had been a serious miscarriage of justice. Meanwhile the media vilified both men as evil killers
The Justice For the Craigavon Two group was formed and attracted the support of high profile lawyers and justice campaigners most notably the most iconic miscarriage of justice victim Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four (see the Daniel Day Lewis movie in the Name of the Father.)
The group began lobbying and rasing awareness through local media facebook and Twitter youtube etc
My understanding is that there was an appeal what was discovered during the appeal?
It was announced that the appeal into the conviction would be held that April, the group secured the promise from a number of human rights groups and from prominent individuals tgat thet would attend as independent observer’s
The first day odf the appeal in April opened to shocking revelations, a new defense witness who could discredit witness Ms account was arrested by the PSNI prior to the appeal starting in an effort to pressure the witness into retracting his evidence, it was openly called sabotage by the defense council in the court and the court suspended the appeal for 6 months to investigate the claims.
During the summer at a human rights convention lawyer’s who represented the Craigavon 2 said they feared arrest and feared for their colleagues lives due to the case and the human rights nature of their work
The appeal started again in October and ran for two weeks it was a white wash for the prosecution start to finish headlines from the appeal included no evidence to link men to the killing as the full extent of the corrupt conspiracy was aired to a court that incuded human rights activists and Irish TDs as observers
To everyone their including myself it was just unbelievable how this concoction was being used to keep two men interned for life.
The support through out the appeal was amazing slogans on high rise flats in belfast and a massive banner on the black Mountain was seen by tens of thousands.
The last day of the appeal a senior PSNI member came across as abusive and intimidating while highly unbelievable as he tried to say the new defense witness had been intimidated into making his statements by a lawyer and an IRA gun man it was outlandish stuff.
The three appeal court judges have reserved their judgement on the appeal and 6 months aince it ended their is still no sign of a decision in the case it could take up to a year.
What can the international community do to support the Craigavon two.
The Justice For the Craigavon Two group welcomes all acts of solidarity all we ask is you send us the pics of your acts so we can publicise them, we would also encourage people to write to Brendan and John Paul in Maghaberry Jail and help raise their morale.
View all the info about the men and their plight at www.justiceforthecraigavontwo.com Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @craigavon2 #JFTC2 www.facebook.com/JFTC2 thanx!
Also view our videos on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YVc2wVM8MI&feature=youtube_gdata_player