Victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer has accused the police of harassing him and deliberately stalling his trial in an attempt to silence him.
Mr Frazer faces relatively minor charges linked to the Union Flag protests.
In February, the south Armagh man was charged with three counts of taking part in an unnotified public procession, a charge of obstructing traffic in a public place and a charged of possession of a Taser stun gun.
Under stringent bail conditions, Mr Frazer, who denies the charges, is prohibited from discussing the flag protests and is not allowed within two miles of any protest.
On Tuesday, he was arrested while having a meal in east Belfast after sitting in the public gallery to observe the Assembly debate on parading.
Mr Frazer said that his wife had been overwhelmed with phone calls of support when he was arrested.
In an interview with the News Letter, he said: “The sooner we get this into court [the better] because the police are trying to use it to keep me silent. A lot of people, especially innocent victims, feel that it’s not me that they are keeping silent but it’s their views [that are being suppressed].”
He said that he was being “harassed” by police, who he said were responsible for the delays after asking for more time to examine the stun gun to determine whether it was working or not, something Mr Frazer said was elementary.
He said that the judge has now decided to hold the trial on August 9, after it was delayed again last month.
He said: “They’re trying to drag this whole thing out — that’s their fourth attempt to get me locked up whereas Gerry Kelly, who clearly was jumping in front of police Land Rovers, has not even been arrested. OK, he’s an MLA. But nobody should be above the law.”
A PSNI spokesperson said: “As this is an ongoing criminal case, it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”
Mr Frazer said that the situation was “a complete farce”.
“What has been said to me behind the scenes — and from some senior police officers — is that the reason they’re dragging it out is that there is no case to answer so whenever it goes into court, if it ever does, more than likely it will be thrown out.”
On three occasions, the PSNI has arrested Mr Frazer and attempted to have him returned to prison but on each occasion the court has decided that he should remain free.
That, Mr Frazer said, was partly because the terms of his bail were unusually restrictive in prohibiting him from being within two miles of a protest, rather than making it clear that he could not “knowingly” be within two miles of a protest.
On Monday at Stormont, Mr Frazer said that he had arrived to meet MLAs Tom Elliott and Jim Allister, unaware that the PUP was organising a protest outside the building. However, on emerging from Parliament Buildings and travelling to the nearby Newtownards Road for a meal he was arrested because he had been within two miles of a protest.
“This continuous arresting me for ‘breaking bail conditions’ .... it was just an attempt to keep me silent.”
However, Mr Frazer said that he had been well treated by police this time after allegations from him, which are now the subject of a Police Ombudsman investigation, that he was mistreated when arrested last month.
“This time it was completely different...I was well treated,” he said.
Mr Frazer, who has been battling cancer, said that his health had been set back by how he was arrested last month but said he was “all right at the minute”.
TUV leader Jim Allister said: “The PSNI’s harassment of Mr Frazer has to stop and stop now. Apart from anything else these court appearances are a scandalous waste of public money.
“This political policing must stop immediately. It is doing huge damage to the standing of the PSNI within the unionist community, particularly when they compare it with the attitude adopted towards Gerry Kelly.”
DUP MLA William Irwin said: “The fact that the PSNI have been unable to persuade the High Court that he had breached bail conditions demonstrates that concerns about the policing operation were well founded.”
Newry independent unionist councillor Paul Berry said he had “total disgust at the actions of the PSNI” in repeatedly arresting Mr Frazer.