Irishwoman in petition over husband's court appeal

Authorities must ensure case is heard on Wednesday as scheduled, says Jule Marku

The last-minute postponement by a Cretan court of her husband's appeal hearing in December cost Julie Marku €15,000. Now she wants to ensure it goes ahead as planned on Wednesday in the hope that her husband Mark can return home

Julie Marku, seen here with her mother Phyl O'Reilly, collects money for her husband's appeal Julie Marku, seen here with her mother Phyl O'Reilly, collects money for her husband's appeal An Irishwoman has launched an online petition calling on the judicial authorities to ensure that an appeal hearing for her husband, who has been behind bars for over three and a half years for crimes that he insists he did not commit, goes ahead as scheduled on Wednesday.

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.

His Irish wife, Julie Marku, believe his trial was a miscarriage of justice, not least because Mark – who is an Albanian citizen – was in Ireland when three of the seven armed robberies he was convicted for took place. Although she gathered extensive documentary evidence to prove his innocence, all of which has been verified by independent sources and by the Irish foreign ministry, the evidence was dismissed at his original trial as forgeries.

Julie Marku is now pinning her hopes that the appeal, in Iraklio in Crete, will allow her husband prove his innocence once and wants to make sure the hearing goes ahead. The appeal date has already been moved five times and, most recently, in December it was postponed on a technicality on the very day of the hearing.

As Julie Marku explains, every time the appeal is delayed it means her husband spends longer in prison and the legal fees and expenses increase. For example, the last attempted appeal cost €15,000. She and her parents say that they have spent their life savings – over €100,000 – trying to exonerate him.

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) A prominent team of lawyers, including representatives from the Irish Innocence Project, have taken on his case. Among them is Dr Greg Hampikian, a professor at Boise State University in Idaho who specialises in DNA and founded the Idaho Innocence Project. One of his most well-known cases is Amanda Knox.

The legal team points out that Marku was prosecuted based on a line-up with eye witnesses who confirmed that all the raiders wore masks. He is of average build and height and has no unusual features to identify him. The prosecution failed to produce any evidence for 11 of the 16 charges brought against him in the original trial and yet he was convicted to 18 years.

Now Julie Marku has launched a petition calling on the authorities to ensure Mark has the opportunity to prove his innocence and return to Ireland.

"It's vital to let the authorities know the world is watching this case to ensure Mark is afforded the right to a fair trial," the campaign page states.

* The petition calling on the appeal trial to go ahead as scheduled is on the Avaaz website. For more information, visit the Justice for Mark and Andreas campaign websiteFacebook page or @FreeMarku on Twitter

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