AN independent body which is quite separate from the judiciary should be set up to examine cases of injustice, one of the six Irishmen arrested 16 years ago for the Birmingham pub bombings said this week.
In a statement read out at a mass for justice and peace at St Aloysius Church, London, Billy Power, one of the six, stressed that they were victims of the judiciary and had been wrongfully convicted.
"Our only crime was the fact that we were ordinary working class Irish men in the wrong place at the wrong time," Mr Power said.
Celebrant Bishop John Crowley, auxiliary in Westminster, said in his homily that the prisoner's letter echoed sentiments of readings from St Paul's letters, and give us the christian context in which to pursue with every vigour the cause of justice."
An appeal in 1987 heard from five former police officers that the confessions of the six men
had been extracted under duress but their convictions were still decided to be "safe and satisfactory". In August this year an enquiry by the Devon and Cornwall police into the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad (members of which had interrogated the men) found
that at least one of the Irishmen's original statements had been tampered with.
Home Secretary David Waddington then referred the case back to the Court of Appeal. Last month the Director of Public Prosecutions announced that the Court of Appeal hearing would not take plqcP before 1991.
This week's mass was part of six nights of events taking place in London to highlight the plight of the men. Chairman of the national committee for their release, Fr Bobby Gilmore, called for them to be "freed before Christmas."