McFarlane goes to European court in bid to halt trial

MAZE prison escapee Brendan “Bik” McFarlane is to take the Government to the European Court of Human Rights in a bid to halt his trial for the 1983 kidnapping of supermarket boss Don Tidey.

Belfast-based McFarlane, 56, has already lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court against a 2006 High Court ruling which directed that a prosecution for his role in the kidnapping of Mr Tidey should proceed.

In the past few weeks, the European Court of Human Rights has asked the Government for its formal observations on the case. It is a sign that the Strasbourg-based court considers the McFarlane case to have considerable merit, although it will await the Government’s response as well as the outcome of the applicant’s Supreme Court appeal before a decision on whether to proceed to a full hearing is taken.

McFarlane, a father-of-three who is currently on bail, was charged in January 1998 with falsely imprisoning Mr Tidey in 1983 and with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life at Derrada Wood, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim.

McFarlane was jailed in 1975 for his part in the IRA bombing of a bar on the Shankill Road in which five people were killed.

However, he escaped from the Maze Prison in September 1983 and remained on the run until January 1986 when he was arrested in Amsterdam, from where he was extradited back to the North and returned to jail in December 1986.

He was released on parole in 1998 and was arrested a short time later in the Republic on the present charges.

In his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, McFarlane complains that the Irish authorities “maliciously and deliberately” delayed initiating criminal proceedings against him.

The former IRA convict claims he is being denied his right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time under Article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

McFarlane also maintains that the State had enough evidence against him to bring proceedings shortly after the date of the alleged offences in 1986.

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