Page last updated at 19:21 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Maskey opposes detention period

Alex Maskey
Alex Maskey opposes the detention of people beyond seven days

Sinn Fein's policing spokesperson Alex Maskey has voiced his opposition to the detention of people by the PSNI beyond seven days.

A 17-year-old boy and a 37-year-old man have been held by police investigating the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll since March 10.

He was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon the previous day.

Mr Maskey said it was crucial the police showed a "willingness to uphold the highest standard of human rights".

"Regardless of who is involved or what they are suspected of doing, Sinn Fein have consistently opposed the detention of suspects beyond the existing seven days. We have repeated this position to the British government in recent days," he said.

"If there is evidence against an individual then that person should be charged and that evidence put before the courts.

"If there is no evidence then that person should be released. That is the normal democratic standard and it is one which must be adhered to."

Detectives were granted an extension on Tuesday to question the pair for seven days.

Mike Ritchie, director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice, has also expressed his concern at the length of their detention period.

"We would be concerned about holding anyone for this length of time and the fact that one of them is a minor is an additional concern that aggravates the situation," he said.

In a statement, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said it did "not create legislation" but enforced "the law as it is enacted".

"When investigating any crime we will use all legal means to bring those responsible before the courts," a PSNI spokeswoman said. "This we do in compliance with European Human Rights legislation."

A number of republicans held a protest outside Antrim police station on Thursday over the detentions.

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