24/03/2009

Teen Denies Police Murder Charge

A teenager has appeared in court to deny murdering police officer Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, who was shot dead in Craigavon on Monday 9 March.

He was in the dock at Lisburn Magistrates Court where the court was told he "made no reply to the charges", when they were put to him.

His lawyer said that he was denying all the charges which also include having a rifle with intent, membership of the Continuity IRA and collecting information of use to terrorists.

The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was remanded in custody to appear by a video link at a court in Craigavon at the start of next month.

The court was also told that the youth had been in custody for almost two weeks and that during that time, he had refused to speak during police interview.

The teenager was being detained under controversial anti-terror legislation that allows police to hold suspects for up to 28 days before being charged.

Last night, two men, aged 27 and 31, who were arrested last week in connection with the murder of Constable Carroll were released without charge.

Four other people are still being held over the murder.
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The period of questioning for the suspects in the murders is the longest anyone has been in custody without charge since internment.

All those being held are the first to be detained in Northern Ireland under the Terrorism Act 2006.

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said they were "concerned" at the length of pre-charge detention and the size of the cells used for detainees.

Echoing comments by the Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams yesterday, the NI Human Rights Commission has questioned the Government on the approach as an effective counter-terrorism measure.

They were yesterday granted permission to visit Antrim Police Station where all the suspects are being held.

However, the PSNI insisted they did everything within the boundaries of human rights legislation.

"The police service does not create legislation - we enforce the law as it is enacted," said a spokeswoman.

"When investigating any crime we will use all legal means to bring those responsible before the courts. This we do in compliance with European human rights legislation."

The UK's pre-charge detention period is considerably longer than in other countries.

See: Police Granted More Time Over Dissident Murder Probes

(BMcC/JM)

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