A West Belfast man handed two life sentences by a non-jury
Diplock court is to testify in his own defence against extradition
from the US as his original trial is being replayed in a Los Angeles

Sean O Cealleagh (Sean Kelly) was released under the Good Friday
Agreement after serving eight years of a controversial sentence
for abetting the 1988 murder of two British soldiers.

He emigrated to the US where he was granted permanent residence
in 2001.

However, O Cealleagh was taken into custody as he returned from
Ireland where he had been attending the christening of his

He has been charged with "being inadmissible to the US because of
his conviction" according to the US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement, a blanket ban on all Irish political prisoners
entering the U.S.

O Cealleagh's lawyers now plan to play video footage to an
immigration court from Irish and British television
documentaries, both of which present evidence that O Cealleagh
and two others convicted on the same charges were the victims of
a miscarriage of justice.

O Ceallagh came upon the scene where two British soldiers,
apparently spying on the republican funeral, came under attack
from angry mourners. His lawyers will tell the court their client
was a victim caught up in the turmoil and politics of the
conflict in the North of Ireland.

O Cealleagh, who did not testify at his trial in the north, is
expected to take the stand, along with his father Jim who has
flown to the US for that purpose.

The prosecution are currently making their case at the Los
Angeles court, where the immigration judge cleared the court of
the public and press at the prosecution's request.

Assistant US Attorney Richard Vinet told the court that US
national security and the relationship between law enforcement
agencies in the United States and Northern Ireland would be
harmed if the video evidence and the testimony by a PSNI police
officer were allowed in open court.

Judge Rose Peters barred the public and reporters from viewing
the alleged PSNI/RUC police video evidence.

According to prosecution documents, O'Cealleagh was videotaped by
a British army helicopter hovering over the scene, a French news
team and a British media crew, said Eamann McMenamin, a lawyer
from Belfast, who is working on O'Cealleagh's behalf.

The helicopter tape was of poor quality and British prosecutors
created a "compilation" tape using all three videos to gain O
Cealleagh's conviction, McMenamin said.

O Cealleagh was convicted of kidnapping, causing grievous bodily
harm and of aiding and abetting in the murders. He and two others
who became known as the "Casement Three" were sentenced to life
under the "common purpose" legal theory that was criticised by
human rights groups.

O Cealleagh said before the protective order was signed that he
was on the periphery of an angry crowd of mourners which set on
the soldiers after they drove at speed into the crowd and later
drew weapons.

"I never touched any of the two corporals," said O Cealleagh, who
also said that he was never a member of the IRA.


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