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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Revenge, Not Justice

If the method and its operations are deficient or questionable, the system of criminal justice itself is weakened. The inevitable result must be that society itself, in the form of a liberal democracy, is undermined - It is no exaggeration to say that for any totalitarian regime to exist, two institutions must be abolished: the democratically-elected parliament and the right to trial by jury
- Barrister Ross Maguire

Anthony McIntyre • August 11, 2003

In April it was reported in the Sunday Business Post that Micky McKevitt would be offered a deal. In return for pleading guilty to IRA membership he would have the more serious charge of directing terrorism dropped and would be released from prison within two years. The reasoning behind this from the point of view of the state was said by the paper to be ‘increasing doubts about the credibility of the chief state witness in the case, supergrass David Rupert.’ The paper also claimed that ‘Rupert, who is originally from New York, was linked with the Teamsters Union in the United States and organised crime, drug dealing and fraud. ’ In June it further reported that Rupert's background is a 'murky world of alleged scams with Afro-Caribbean criminals in Chicago, life assurance frauds, gambling deals with the Mafia and a string of bankruptcies.'

Only this week any such misgivings about Rupert's character on the part of the Irish state evaporated as three judges in the Special Criminal Court, which functions without a jury, politically prostituted themselves and effectively sullied their own character as a means to give the kiss of life to the moral corpse that David Rupert tries to pass off as character. Not since the supergrass trials of the 1980s in the North have Irish judges looked so ridiculously servile, demonstrating that in Kitsonian terms, for Justice Johnson and his cohorts, the law exists to dispose of unwanted members of the public. Despite appearing distinctly uneasy when McKevitt's barrister, Hugh Hartnett launched what the journalist Nicola Anderson described as a devastating attack on Rupert's business affairs, the trial judges went on to describe him as a "truthful witness".

Although the same judges would have ruled in favour of truthful Bill Clinton against dishonest Monica Lewinsky, their judgement found some reinforcement in those media circles that have traditionally identified with the concept of innocent until proven Irish. One banner headline gleefully proclaimed on McKevitt’s conviction that ‘the butcher of Omagh faces life.’

At one stage Rupert told the judges that he had agreed to become a tout because "from my moral teachings, I found it morally acceptable to do so". Strange that the other things most of us find morally proper seemed not to bother Rupert in the slightest, such as honouring debts with our friends. Nor was the notion of hanging out with gangsters linked to former Chilean dictator and war criminal Augusto Pinochet and former Panamanian dictator and serial human rights abuser Manuel Noriega restricted by any higher moral calling. No - morality simply meant giving evidence against Micky McKevitt. A morality guided by mammon - The FBI and MI5 financed this 'moral giant' to the tune of £750,000.

One particularly sad aspect of the trial and surrounding proceedings was the dilemma of Victor Barker, whose 12 year old son James was killed in the Omagh bomb. As a trained barrister he must be alert to the corrosive effect on justice that greed-motivated witnesses have. But in his passionate need for intellectual and emotional redress he praised ‘Dave Rupert for his courage in coming forward to tell the truth.’ Mr Barker has every right to seek justice for the death of his child. And republicans can hardly question his means of pursuing it given that none of us have been too eager to help him. But there are surely difficulties in weighing Rupert’s evidence that cannot be reconciled by the mental deliberations of judges alone, even those who do not seek to prostitute themselves. The American’s admission that he is a ‘whore’ who would do anything for money can only lead many to think that had McKevitt been in a position to pay Rupert more than the FBI or M15, there would have been no conviction in Dublin this week. The grief stricken victims of the Omagh bombing are being offered vengeance in place of justice. But even where revenge is an understandable human emotion, do those devastated by Omagh really want to eat that particular dish served up by Dave Rupert? Most would not buy a second hand car - let alone justice - from this swindler.

Ultimately, this was a political trial. Is there anyone who genuinely believes that were Rupert today to offer information about the Provisional IRA Chief of Staff at the time of the La Mon bombing, anyone would face charges? And were the relatives of the victims to pursue a civil case aginst the then chief of staff and his colleagues would there be a snowball's chance in hell of the British financially backing it? Jane Winter of British Irish Human Rights Watch has questioned the outcome of the McKevitt trial. Of Rupert she said, ‘he has an interest for giving the evidence that he gave. I am always worried about justice based on paid evidence.’ This point has been reinforced by Barrister Ross Maguire who made the following observation:

Before a judge and jury - and operating under the normal rule of evidence - the case against the accused could only be described as weak. The evidence of the chief superintendent would be inadmissible and Rupert, as he was being paid, could not be seen to be entirely independent.

Few would risk inviting public ridicule by asserting that Micky McKevitt is de facto innocent of the charges levelled against him. But a conviction based on the evidence presented - a guard’s opinion combined with the word of a paid tout - smacks more of legal chicanery than due process. McKevitt only ever faced court proceedings to begin with because in the view of the state he was in its least favourite IRA. The state’s preferred IRA is still ‘directing terrorism.’ But in our distorted ethical world, courtesy of the peace process, for the directors of one IRA it is Portlaoise, for directing the other it is Parliament.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

11 August 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Revenge, Not Justice
Anthony McIntyre


Statement of Michael McKevitt


Brutality in Maghaberry Extends to Visitors

Martin Mulholland, IRPWA


Federal Prisoner Becomes University Professor
Stephen C. Richards


What is the New School of Convict Criminology?
Jeffery Ian Ross and Stephen C. Richards


Intellectuals and the Cold War
John Harrington


Kevin Lynch Commemoration Speech
Jimmy Bradley


Neo-Liberal Nicaragua: Neo Banana Republic
Toni Solo


5 August 2003


Spooks, Spies and Spoofers
Anthony McIntyre


Doing Something Right
Aine Fox


The Ideas of Frantz Fanon

Liam O Ruairc


Terrorism and Civil Society as Instruments of US Policy in Cuba
Philip Agee


The Letters Page has been updated.




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