Page last updated at 07:52 GMT, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 08:52 UK

Non-jury trials set to continue


The non-jury courts system in Northern Ireland will continue to operate, the justice minister has said.

Paul Goggins said the current system would be retained for two more years as jurors still face pressure from paramilitaries and their communities.

The recent murders of two soldiers, a policeman and a Catholic community worker indicated that there were those still "wedded to the past", he said.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the move was "totally unacceptable".

"It is another indication of a British minister doing what the British do best - making mistakes in terms of how they apply their attitude to these issues," he said.

Mr Adams said local people under the Assembly should take those decisions.

The government technically abolished the old Diplock courts in 2007, in which judges heard terrorist cases without a jury.

However it gave the Director of Public Prosecutions temporary power to decide that exceptional cases should be tried without a jury if he believed there was still a risk of jurors being intimidated.

In 2007 29 certificates for non-jury trial were granted, relating to 28 cases. Since August 2008 a further 9 certificates have been granted.

At the height of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland hundreds of people were tried without a jury every year.

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