31/08/2011

PSNI 'Deny' Australian Visa To Freed Suspect

A Sinn Fein MLA has claimed that the police are being vindictive over a failed visa application.

The denial of an Australian visa to a man detained last month over the murder of PSNI officer, Ronan Kerr was due to PSNI "vindictiveness", claimed Michelle O'Neill.

She said that she wrote to the police on behalf of Brian Campbell, 23, asking them to tell the Australian Embassy he was released unconditionally.

She said that the PSNI actually told the Embassy that the Coalisland man was still under investigation instead and has accused the PSNI of being vindictive despite the man being released straight away.

Ms O'Neill stated: "A young man who was arrested earlier this year but released unconditionally within 24 hours applied and was granted a visa to travel to Australia but this visa was revoked after the PSNI wrote to the Australian Embassy.

"I contacted the PSNI and they assured me that they would write again to the Embassy stating that he was released unconditionally and had not been charged with any offence.

"However their subsequent letter stated he was still under investigation and based on this the Australian Embassy disallowed him on appeal and did not reinstate the Visa to travel," said the politician.
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"I am outraged that the PSNI are not only being obstructive but actually seem vindictive in dealing with this application.

"Whist I accept that this is a live investigation this cannot be allowed to prevent this young man getting on with his life.

"To date not one single scrap of evidence has been produced to suggest this young man is guilty of anything and I am outraged at the way in which he is being treated," she summed.

"I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the local PSNI Commander to ensure that any letter in reference to the visa application state that this young man is innocent.

"I also intend to find out why Brian is experiencing these difficulties and seek an apology from the PSNI and I am also looking at bringing in the Police Ombudsman to investigate any discrimination or vindictiveness on behalf of individual officers involved in the case," she concluded.

Mr Campbell was one of several people arrested in a high profile operation by officers investigating the murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr in April.

The move was criticised by the Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who said that his constituent had been in the United States at the time of the fatal bomb attack on the officer.

(BMcC/CD)

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