Corry on trial over IRA bombing of Army base in Germany

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A British military policeman inspects a part of the bomb at the Army base in Osnabrueck in 1996Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Three mortars were launched from a pick-up truck, with one exploding inside the army base

A man from Northern Ireland is standing trial for attempted murder more than 20 years after a Provisional IRA attack on a British Army base in Germany.

The trial opened in Osnabrueck on Wednesday with a confession.

James Corry admitted to helping stage a mortar attack on the base in Osnabrueck in western Germany in 1996 - but said killing soldiers was not its main aim.

A defence lawyer read out a statement confirming that Mr Corry had helped to carry out the attack.

According to his confession, Mr Corry drove a rented Ford Transit pick-up truck to a side entrance of the Quebec army base at at 18:15 on 28 June 1996.

He had already mounted a mortar rocket on the back of the truck.

He set a timer to trigger the detonation of three mortars after 35 minutes.

Two failed to go off and the third exploded near a petrol station in the army base.

'No hiding place'

According to the state prosecutor Melanie Redlich, it was "only by luck" that no one was injured or killed in the attack.

One-hundred-and-fifty people were on the base at the time.

Mr Corry admitted through his lawyer that the attack was supposed to kill British soldiers.

But he said that the main aim was to show the British military that they had no hiding place, and could be attacked anywhere.

"If the aim was to kill as many as possible, the attack wouldn't have been planned at 18:15 but at midday, when there was as much movement as possible on the base," he said in his statement.

According to the defence lawyer, Mr Corry gave up involvement with the IRA after the 1996 attack and he is described as now fully supporting the peace process.

'Psychological torture'

Mr Corry was born in Belfast in 1968 to a family of seven children.

He said that when he was growing up in Belfast his first memory was seeing a woman shot dead while he was playing on the street.

He later became involved with the Provisional IRA and by the mid-1990s had been arrested five times.

He claims that he was tortured psychologically with methods such as sleep deprivation.

Mr Corry was arrested in October 2015 and was extradited to Germany under a European Arrest Warrant.

His trial is scheduled to last until December.

It is thought five people in total carried out the 1996 attack.

In 2003, a British man was sentenced to six years and six months in jail for his involvement.

If found guilty, Mr Corry could face up to five years in prison.