Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Republican Brian Arthurs challenges trial without jury

Scales of Justice

A leading republican has launched a legal action against his forthcoming trial being heard without a jury.

Brian Arthurs, 45, of Finulagh Road, Castlecaulfield, Dungannon, is charged with deception and possession of criminal property.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has issued a certificate for the trial to take place in front of a judge alone.

Mr Arthurs' barrister argued his client had "a fundamental right to trial by one's peers."

The lawyer told High Court judges it was the first judicial review challenge to be brought against a provision under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007.

But Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan questioned why an application should not instead be made at the Crown Court before the trial begins in February.

Adjourning the hearing, he said: "Because this is the first case of its type to come before the court the procedure that should be adopted is clearly important for other cases."

Sir Declan stressed that care should be taken before any determination is made.

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