Germany ‘contrived’ to release IRA bomber

British soldiers walk to a police van that partly hides a pickup truck in front of a side entrance to the Osnabrueck British army barracks after an IRA mortar attack in June 1996.
British soldiers walk to a police van that partly hides a pickup truck in front of a side entrance to the Osnabrueck British army barracks after an IRA mortar attack in June 1996.

The German courts have been accused of handing down an “artificially low” sentence to an IRA bomber in order to ensure he walked free from jail shortly after conviction.

North Belfast man James Corry was charged with attempted murder by a court in Osnabrueck last month. He pleaded guilty to involvement in an IRA mortar attack on the UK army base in Osnabrueck in 1996 and was jailed for four years.

The attack caused extensive damage at the barracks but there were no injuries.

However it has now emerged that he walked free four days after being jailed and attended a ‘welcome Home’ party in Dublin hosted by Sinn Fein TD and former IRA figure Martin Ferris on 28 October.

Mr Corry, 48, was arrested in Killorglin, Co Kerry in October 2015 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by German authorities in 2004.

He was then extradited to Germany to stand trial where he was jailed for four years.

But UUP justice spokesman and former RIR captain Doug Beattie MLA, described his speedy release after less than a week as “absolutely incredible” and asked if Mr Corry benefited from an UK government On-The-Run (OTR) letter.

He also pressed the Irish government to say whether it only agreed to extradite Mr Corry on the understanding that he would be released immediately after being jailed.

“The UK must also press the European Parliament to ensure the European courts know and accept that the OTR letter has no legal authority”.

“The question is, did the British and Irish Governments know in advance that this four day sentence would be the outcome, and was this instrumental in the extradition being successful?”

A spokeswoman for the Osnabrueck courts told the News Letter it was “not correct” to say Mr Corry only served four days of a sentence.

In Germany it is possible to suspend a sentence once half of it has been served, as was the case for Mr Corry, she said. The IRA man had served over a year in custody since his arrest in Dublin in 2015 and a further year was deducted from his final sentence in recognition of the “unreasonable” delay in the prosecution, she added.

But TUV leader Jim Allister, a former QC, told the News Letter that a four year sentence for attempted murder seemed like an “artificially low” sentence.

“This confirms my suspicion that this was a sentence which was contrived to fit the time he had already served since arrest, in order to allow him to walk free after conviction.”

It seemed as though Germany calculated Corry’s sentence based on the amount of time he had already served prior to conviction in order to ensure his immediate release after he was jailed, he added.