John Downey: Irishman, 67, accused of IRA Hyde Park bombing to be extradited to UK over murder of two soldiers in Northern Ireland
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John Downey: Irishman, 67, accused of IRA Hyde Park bombing to be extradited to UK over murder of two soldiers in Northern Ireland

A FORMER IRA man whose trial over the 1982 Hyde Park bombing in London collapsed is to be extradited to Northern Ireland on suspicion of murdering two soldiers there a decade prior.

John Downey, 67, was previously accused of killing four Royal Household Cavalrymen at Hyde Park on July 20, 1982– before his trial at the Old Bailey collapsed in 2014 when he produced a controversial 'On The Run' (OTR) letter of immunity from Tony Blair's government.

Downey was arrested in Co. Donegal in the Republic of Ireland last November under a European Arrest Warrant in connection with the 1972 double murder of two Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) servicemen in Co. Fermanagh.

Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, and Private James Eames, 33, were killed when an IRA device exploded in a car they were checking on the Irvinestown Road in Cherrymount, Enniskillen on August 25, 1972.

Objections

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On Friday, the UK High Court ordered Mr Downey's extradition from the Republic to Northern Ireland.

Downey had objected to his extradition on a number of grounds including his OTR letter from Tony Blair which he believed amount to a pardon or amnesty, and his belief that it would be "oppressive to surrender him".

However, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly said she had rejected each of Mr Downey's objections and ordered his extradition from his home in Ards, Creeslough, Co. Donegal to custody in Northern Ireland.

His extradition has been delayed until Wednesday, March 6 to allow him leave to appeal.

Controversy

In 2013, Downey was charged with the murders of Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19, Lieutenant Anthony Daly, 23, and Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, in the 1982 Hyde Park bomb attack.

But his trial at the Old Bailey collapsed in controversial circumstances the following year after he produced an OTR letter from former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's government assuring him he was not actively wanted by authorities.

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OTR letters were issued to suspected IRA members wanted for crimes committed in the UK during the Troubles as part of the peace process under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

The controversy sparked a government inquiry into the OTRs scheme, which found that the "one-sided, secretive scheme of letters" had damaged the integrity of the criminal justice system, and recommended that steps be taken to ensure OTR letters had no legal effect.