NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
‘Forces Champion’ Juan Watterson MHK could ‘pull his finger out’…and get the police to do their job?!
No ‘marks out of ten’ for Manx Radio and IOM Today, or indeed any of the other Isle of Man media who covered the British Army ‘fun festival’ on Douglas Promenade recently.
No Manx journalist bothered to raise the issue of the outstanding criminal case of Private Che Awembeng Collins – you may have forgotten him (the media certainly have) and his alleged victim.
Collins, on the Island for ceremonial duties in August 2010, allegedly committed a serious sexual assault on a young woman and was subsequently detained and charged by Manx Police.
Then in an extraordinary development which shows how patently stupid the Manx Courts are he was released into military custody and allowed to return to his unit. Collins subsequently went on the run and has not been seen since.
When we pressed the UK and Manx authorities about the case some years ago the MOD were at first extremely reluctant to comment citing ‘data protection’ issues. However when we finally forced comment out of them they effectively blamed the Manx Police and Courts for the Collins debacle. The MOD said in correspondence to us in January this year:
“It may be helpful if I explain that the Service has no special jurisdiction over personnel who appear in civil courts. They are dealt with by the legal system as citizens, and therefore treated as civilians by the courts. When anyone is bailed by a civil court, the terms and conditions are set by that court and will be specific to the case. The nationality of an arrested individual will be ascertained by the arresting police force, who will inform the court. It would be for the court to determine the flight risk of the individual and take action accordingly. If, despite any measures taken, a bailed suspect does abscond it is the responsibility of the investigating police force and prosecuting lawyers to take extradition proceedings against them if the offence warrants it.
A soldier released on bail is not ‘released into the custody’ of the Army in any sense of being under arrest or confinement. We would have no legal authority to do so and if the court required restrictions of this sort the soldier would have to be detained by the civil authorities. Once bailed, the soldier would return to their unit in a way that is no different to a civilian being bailed by a court to return to work. If, whilst on bail, a soldier absents themselves from their unit, this would be recorded as Absence Without Leave on the UK Police National Computer. Ministers would not normally be informed, but the soldier’s unit may well advise the relevant court authorities.
Finally, I can confirm that information relating to soldiers, including any of foreign origin, absconding after being released by the court on bail is not held centrally and cannot be provided. An offence of Absence Without Leave is not one on which extradition proceedings would be brought.”
Meanwhile the Manx Police in one of the most crass and insensitive statement ever released over a serious case of this type said that the soldier ‘has no ties with the Island’ and the alleged victim was ‘a non-Manx resident’.
They averred that:
“This matter as such has no local connections other than the alleged offence being committed here on 29 August 2010.”
Collins is still on the run. The British Army don’t care and the Manx Police are not interested!
Perhaps ‘Forces Champion’ Juan Watterson MHK could ‘pull his finger out’ as Department of Home Affairs Minister and get the police to do their job?!
Related news item here which in turn has links to other reports on this long running issue.
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)
ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues
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