Special Criminal Court without a jury helped eliminate cartel death squads

Swift prosecution of Kinahan cartel ‘strike teams’ through Special Criminal Court is one reason controversial jury-less tribunal should be upheld, senior crime official An Garda said Siochána.

Deputy Commissioner John O’Driscoll said “at least” three to four anti-cartel teams have been eliminated, resulting in a dramatic reduction in the number of death squads and a sharp drop in killings of gangs.

The head of Serious and Organized Crime said the Special Criminal Court – whose future is currently under the microscope of high-level scrutiny – was “arguably subject to a greater level of scrutiny” than the regular courts.

In a long interview with the Irish Examiner, the veteran officer also said:

  • The arrest in Spain of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch for the murder at the Regency Hotel in February 2016 must be treated with “great caution” as it was still only a charge and “he could to be declared innocent “;
  • Gardaí “continually gathered evidence to eliminate other people”, but said he could not be specific about Daniel Kinahan or other bosses of the Kinahan cartel;
  • The Garda Drugs and Organized Crime Bureau (DOCB) was “clearly on track” to totally dismantle the Kinahan cartel and the mass convictions have had a “significant disruption” on it.

Deputy Commissioner O’Driscoll said that, since the start of 2019, the DOCB has secured at least 27 convictions in the Special Criminal Court, including against cartel assassination squads following “threat of life “of the office.

“We have eliminated a number of strike teams,” said the police chief. “It’s probably more than three to four and we also have contract killers.”

He said: “Regarding the strike teams, I argued at the very beginning of allocating resources to this, before I caught the first strike team, I said there was no were only a limited number of people who would murder under these circumstances, I believe that turned out to be the case.

Figures show that there were 20 life threatening interventions in 2016 and 26 in 2017. They have halved to 13 in 2018, 14 in 2019, only two in 2020 and one so far this year. .

Assistant Commissioner O’Driscoll said gang murders have also dropped dramatically.

“The dead would have continued” without the Special Criminal Court

Of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) he said: “The argument, if we are right – that we had a huge impact in reducing life-threatening incidents – if we had been dependent on the courts. ordinary and had not created a second CPS, some of the trials in these cases may not take place for three years.

“Therefore, it can be argued that the feud would have lasted longer, the deaths would have continued and we would not have been able to bring these people to justice, let alone have convictions. All of this adds to the argument. of the prosecution of the court. ”

He said the Garda Office of Drugs and Organized Crime must adhere to the same SCC standards as those of ordinary courts.

He said the evidence accepted by the CPS for subversives – the “opinion evidence” of a chief superintendent that an accused is a member of a paramilitary organization – does not apply to the crime.

The legislation is subject to scrutiny at the Dáil every year

He said the legislation that underpins the CPS is subject to “scrutiny” by the Dáil every year and said the very high level of guilty pleas in the CPS “should be very reassuring” to the public.

The Deputy Commissioner said that, unlike jury trials, if a SCC accused is acquitted, a written judgment is rendered which could detail the flaws in the prosecution’s record: “Arguably there is a greater level of control in the Special Criminal Court. ”

A number of national and international bodies have opposed or expressed serious concerns about the SCC, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee, various United Nations special rapporteurs, the Irish Council for Freedoms. civilians and Amnesty.

A government-mandated review of CPS and the underlying legislation is led by Justice Michael Peart.

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