More delays in Marku appeal in Crete

Legal team includes Dr Greg Hampikian, one of America's foremost forensic DNA experts

Innocence project supporting Mark Marku, who is serving an 18-year sentence in a Greek prison, says it has evidence that he was in Ireland for some of the crimes he was convicted of

A courtroom (File photo) A courtroom (File photo) An international legal support team which is in Crete to support a man in his appeal against an 18-year sentence for a number of robberies which he insists he did not commit has expressed its disappointment that his appeal hearing has been delayed for another four days.

Three members of the Irish Innocence Project and Dr Greg Hampikian, considered one of the foremost forensic DNA experts in the United States, were in Iraklio, Crete, on Wednesday for the appeal of Mark Marku, an Albanian man who has been in prison in for over three years. Marku is married to an Irish woman, Julie O’Reilly, who engaged the assistance of the Irish Innocence Project in her fight for her husband’s freedom.

In January 2012, after 16 months in custody, Mark Marku and four other men were convicted of a litany of charges including seven armed robberies that took place in Crete in 2010. He received an 18-year jail sentence. He claims he was in Ireland for six of these crimes and the Irish Innocence Project has collected evidence to back up this claim.

But Marku's family and legal team were disappointed to learn that the earliest the appeal will begin is May 12. It is the second time in five months that Marku's family and the members of the legal team have travelled from Ireland and the US to Iraklio, after it was postponed at the last minute in December because of a technicality.

They are hoping for a better outcome on this occasion and fear that further delays could jeopardise Marku’s chances of getting a fair trial.

Mark and Julie Marku on their wedding day in Ireland in 2009 (Photo: Julie Marku) Mark and Julie Marku on their wedding day in Ireland in 2009 (Photo: Julie Marku)

After the court adjourned, Dr David Langwallner, a barrister, law lecturer and head of the Irish Innocence Project, commented: "We would hope that justice will not be delayed any further."

Langwallner is expected to appear as an expert witness at the appeal to give evidence that Marku was in Ireland when these offences occurred.

The further ten counts on which Mr Marku was convicted were supported by eyewitness and DNA evidence. The Irish Innocence Project has liaised with US experts in both of these fields in order to assist Marku’s defence team in preparing for the appeal.

Dr Greg Hampikian of Boise State University, who has also worked on the Amanda Knox case, is due to give expert DNA testimony when the appeal is heard.

"As this is the second time I've flown here for this appeal, I'm looking forward to testifying about the reliability of the spurious DNA identification in this case," said Hampikian, who is volunteering his services for the case.

Victoria Lawson of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, has prepared an eyewitness report for the appeal. According to Lawson, "there is a substantial possibility that Mr Marku is the victim of mistaken identity."

The Irish Innocence Project delegation also includes caseworkers Katie O’Leary and Lara Hand.

* For more information, visit the Justice for Mark and Andreas campaign websiteFacebook page or @FreeMarku on Twitter

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