Warning over Boston tapes; Testimonies could be used to destabilise peace process: McGuinness

Warning over Boston tapes; Testimonies could be used to destabilise peace process: McGuinness
LIAM CLARKE
25 August 2012
Belfast Telegraph

DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness has warned that the release of taped terrorist testimonies from Boston College could be used to destabilise the peace process.

His warning came as it emerged that the tapes may be used in a civil action to sue Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams and other senior republicans after the police are finished with them.

Mr McGuinness spoke on Wednesday on PBS NewsHour, a leading public service current affairs show which is screened nationwide in the US. He said:

“Anybody reading the news reports in the United States here would be very concerned about how that situation is being used by elements who are not favourably disposed to the peace process in order to use that situation in order to destabilise the progress that we have made.”

Up until now senior republicans have brushed off the Boston College issue in the belief that the tapes could not be used to mount a prosecution.

However, it has now emerged that, even if the tapes do not provide the proof beyond reasonable doubt required in a criminal case, they could be used in a civil action where proof is only on the balance of probabilities.

That is what happened in the case of the 1998 Omagh bombing.

In June 2009, some of the families of the 29 dead won a £1.6m civil action against four suspects who had not been convicted.

They did so using police evidence which was subpoenaed by their lawyers. Norman Baxter, a former RUC and PSNI Chief Superintendent who investigated the Omagh bombing, said the same thing was likely to happen again.

“Before the information can be used in a civil action the opportunities for criminal prosecution must be exhausted.”

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