Miscarriages of justice/Fehlurteile

Blair entschuldigt sich bei zwei Familien.

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven, wrongly imprisoned in the 1970s, received an apology from Tony Blair completely exonerating them yesterday, because it’s one thing being not guilty and another being innocent.

The Independent reports, and gives a summary of events and also a comparison of the situation when the arrests were made and anti-terrorism legislation was in place and the situation now, in view of the moves for new anti-terrorism law and the discussion about the British inmates of Guantanamo Bay.

Eleven people spent up to 15 years behind bars before being cleared while one man, Guiseppe Conlon, died in prison. They were jailed in relation to the 1974 Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings in which the IRA killed seven people.

Mr Blair’s apology was delivered in a TV statement in his office in the House of Commons and then in private to those wronged by the British legal system. He said: “I’m very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and such an injustice. That’s why I’m making this apology today – they deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated.” He then shook them by the hands.

The two cases were particularly well-known. Gerry Conlon and Annie Maguire both wrote books, and there was the film In the Name of the Father, which unfortunately did not aim to be factual (the scene where all the defendants in both cases were crammed into the dock was also unintentionally funny). But Daniel Day-Lewis was good. Roger Ebert did justice to this one:

Convinced by the film’s documentary detail, we assume all these facts are based on truth, and it is a little surprising to discover that the sadistic British policeman is a composite of several officers, that Conlon and his father were never in the same cell – and that the crucial character of Joe McAndrew (Don Baker), an IRA man who confesses to the Guildford bombings, is a fictional invention. All the same, the main thrust of the story is truthful: British courts found that Conlon and the others were jailed unjustly.

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