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Two British Teen Killers to be Released

Aired June 22, 2001 - 09:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Our top story once again this morning, the news out of Great Britain that the two now teenagers who were the killers of young James Bulger in February of 1993 are to be released on parole and to be given new identities in order to lead their lives with some blanket of protection. This case, of course, a very controversial one engendering all kinds of anger and discontent in Great Britain and that continues to do so today on the announcement that they will be released.

Simon Crighton is an attorney for one of the murderers in this case. Mr. Crighton, are you on the line with us now?

SIMON CRIGHTON, ATTORNEY FOR JON VENABLES: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Which one do you represent, sir?

CRIGHTON: Jon Venables.

O'BRIEN: All right, Jon Venables. Just give us the, your understanding as to what the parole agreement is.

CRIGHTON: Well, the parole board has directed that our client should be released from custody.

O'BRIEN: And they will be given new identities?

CRIGHTON: The parole board decision didn't go into what should happen to them after their release and it states that there are license conditions they must abide by. Obviously, those license conditions are not public.

O'BRIEN: All right, but can you confirm that they will not be living with their name? Will Jon Venables be walking around as Jon Venables?

CRIGHTON: I'm afraid that I'm not able or at liberty to discuss anything that relates to them after their release from custody.

O'BRIEN: All right, have you talked to their client -- your client recently and what is his state of mind right now?

CRIGHTON: Again, I'm not in a position to talk about the effect on my client individually because these proceedings are confidential and the outcome is confidential. Obviously in broad terms this has been announced, but we're not allowed to discuss specifics.

O'BRIEN: All right. In broad terms what can you tell us, then, about this parole and its impact on society in general there in Great Britain?

CRIGHTON: Well, in broad terms the body that has directed his release from prison custody is one which is extremely expert in making assessments of this nature and they've been fulfilling this function for 10 years very successfully. Their legal duty is to only order release when they're satisfied that the individual doesn't pose a risk to the public and therefore it's not necessary for them to be detained. So I think that the public can feel assured that the decision will not jeopardize public safety and has been made after taking into account all possible relevant considerations.

O'BRIEN: How do you answer the widely held criticism that this is too soon and not appropriate given the nature of this horrendous crime?

CRIGHTON: Well, I think what we have to accept and whatever one's personal feelings may be is that all democratic countries have to have due process and the due process in this case is entailed with the lord chief justice, the most senior judge in this country, deciding how long the boys should spend in custody for purely punitive terms and then the parole board, another expert body, deciding on whether they are safe to be released at the end of that punitive term.

Now, obviously, we all have personal opinions on a whole range of matters. But I think it is important for us to accept that decisions of this type are taken in accordance with the law by expert bodies and that we should respect those decisions.

O'BRIEN: Simon Crighton is the attorney representing Jon Venables, one of the two now 18-year-olds, soon to be 19-year-olds who were tried and convicted for the killing of James Bulger in February of 1993. As we have been reporting to you, it has now been reported they will be released on parole and although Mr. Crighton would not confirm it, there are reports, and we have been reporting this morning they will be released with new identities.

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