New Law: Non-jury trials and covert surveillance evidence
BY PATRICK LOGUE and CONOR LALLY
New surveillance law unveiled
The Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Bill 2009, published by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern this morning, sets out a legal framework for the first time that will allow the use of covert surveillance as evidence in criminal trials.
Mr Ahern today also confirmed plans for trials at the non-jury Special Criminal Court for those charged with a new offence of membership of a crime gang. The sworn testimony of senior Garda officers will form the cornerstone of gangland prosecutions at the court, which has rarely been used for non-terrorist trials.
Speaking at a press conference in Dublin this morning, Mr Ahern said
“In a nutshell, the Bill provides that secret surveillance can be used as evidence either to support other direct evidence on criminal charges, or as a basis on its own for a charge of conspiracy,” he said.
“A crucial element in this strategy is the secret gathering of vital material about planning, movements, contacts and methods of operation of criminals using the latest technological aids, devices and expertise available to police and security services worldwide,” Mr Ahern said in a statement.