Germany to try IRA suspect for 1996 mortar attack

A former member of an IRA splinter group will face trial in Germany, 21 years after he allegedly tried to hit a British base there with mortar shells, the court said on Wednesday.

Germany to try IRA suspect for 1996 mortar attack
The British Quebec Barracks in Osnabrück after the mortar attack in 1996. Photo: DPA.

The unidentified Belfast-born man, 48, was arrested in December at Frankfurt Airport after his extradition by Irish authorities. 

His trial for attempted murder starts on July 26th with a total of 15 hearings scheduled, said the court in the city of Osnabrück in northwest Germany.

He is an alleged former member of a so-called active service unit of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

He and four co-conspirators on June 28th 1996 allegedly parked a small truck outside the city's Quebec Barracks and fired three mortar shells from an improvised launch battery.

Two of them failed to go off and the third hit the driveway of a nearby petrol station.

No one was injured, which the court said was “only due to sheer luck”.

Another of the militants was sentenced to six and a half years in jail in 2003 by a court in the city of Celle.

The IRA (Irish Republican Army) conducted a three-decade campaign of bombings and shootings during the so-called “Troubles” between Catholics and Protestants as it strove for Northern Ireland to break away from British rule and become part of Ireland.

The landmark 1998 Good Friday peace agreement ended most violence and the organisation later abandoned its armed struggle as part of the Northern Ireland peace process.