Over 200 cases of miscarriages of justice in Northern Ireland

London, Oct 12, IRNA — Hundreds of men and women found guilty of terrorism offences during the Northern Ireland conflict are seeking to have their cases reopened, alleging confessions that led to their convictions were beaten out of them by police.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the body that investigates alleged miscarriages of justice, is reported to have received applications from more than 200 people convicted at special non-jury ‘Diplock’ courts that were set up in the province in 1973.

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So far the court of appeal in Belfast has heard 26 cases referred by the commission, and has overturned convictions in no less than 24 with more applications expected.

According to the Guardian newspaper, a number of men who served as detectives with the previous Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) have revealed how senior officers encouraged the systematic mistreatment of suspects after the establishment of the Diplock courts.

“They say they took full advantage of the vague wording of emergency legislation in Northern Ireland which allowed the courts to admit confessions as evidence, providing there was no evidence they had been obtained through the use of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment”, the daily said.

The applications for alleged miscarriages of justice are said to include the cases of 47 people who were juveniles at the time of their conviction.

Diplock courts, named after the Law Lord who proposed them, were set up in an attempt to overcome jury intimidation associated with the Northern Ireland conflict and at their peak heard over 300 cases a year in the mid-1980s.

The courts heard cases in front of a single judge associated only with paramilitaries, but before they were abolished in 2007 handed down at least one conviction of a so-called al-Qaeda sympathiser