Court reserves judgment on claim of unlawful detention

 

JUDGMENT has been reserved by a three judge Divisional Court of the High Court on a claim by a former member of Republican Sinn Fein's Ardchomhairle that he is unlawfully detained.

The court heard final submissions yesterday before reserving its judgment.

The three judge court, presided over by Mr Justice Geoghegan and with Mr Justice Kelly and Mr Justice Smyth, was inquiring into the legality of Mr Michael Heggarty's detention.

Mr Heggarty (43), a native of Co Clare, with an address at Knockmore Grove, Tallaght, Co Dublin is one of 16 men released from prison after it was discovered that Judge Dominic Lynch had sat at the Special Criminal Court on a number of occasions following his delisting from the court last August.

He has brought a constitutional application against the Governor of Limerick Prison seeking his release from custody.

The Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner, the DPP and the State have been made notice parties to the claim.

Mr Heggarty was charged at the Special Criminal Court in November, 1995 with the unlawful possession of an explosive substance with intent to endanger life at Longfield, Etra, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, on November 10th, 1995.

He claims he was never properly charged before the Special Criminal Court on November 7th last year when he was remanded in custody, that the rem and is invalid and that he is in unlawful custody.

His lawyers have also claimed that Mr Heggarty's constitutional rights were consciously and deliberately violated and that a conspiracy, involving the Minister for Justice, the Garda and the DPP was behind his rearrest and recharging.

Mr Peter Charleton SC, for the DPP, said yesterday there had been no intention of infringing Mr Heggarty's constitutional rights.

He said the Attorney General and the Minister for Justice were anxious to vindicate his rights and the DPP had a constitutional duty to prosecute.

Mr Charleton said there had been no planned invasion of Mr Heggarty's constitutional rights following the discovery that Judge Lynch had been delisted from the Special Criminal Court.

He submitted that the courts have always recognised there were situations where lawful custody can become unlawful custody where constitutional rights are infringed.

Mr Diarmaid McGuinness SC, also for the DPP, submitted that the Minister for Justice acted "from the purest of motives" in moving to vindicate Mr Heggarty's right to liberty as quickly as possible by releasing him.

He said the question arose as to whether the course chosen by the DPP in ordering the rearrest of Mr Heggarty was proper and lawful and he submitted it was.

Mr McGuinness said once Mr Heggarty was out of the custody that the Special Criminal Court had intended him to be kept in, the court was no longer in a position to bring him back to court for the pursuance of the charge.

Earlier yesterday Mr Justice Kelly in the High Court said that on February 10th next he would fix a date for the hearing of habeas corpus applications by a number of the prisoners released and rearrested after the Judge Lynch delisting.