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26 June 2003 Edition

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Springfield residents call for support

Michael Finucane, son of assassinated Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane, has challenged the British government to "reclaim its shattered reputation" after the European Court of Human Rights this week found Britain in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court found Britain guilty of breaching Pat Finucane's right to life and failing to investigate the 1989 killing.

Michael Finucane said the British government had been found wanting because they had not properly protected his father's life nor investigated his death. "It is easy to see why they did not want to investigate this murder," said Michael. "They were the instigators and facilitators of it.

"The only way the British government can hope to reclaim any part of its shattered reputation is by establishing a full, independent judicial public inquiry without further delay," said the Dublin-based solicitor.

Reiterating the call for a public inquiry by the Finucane family, international human rights groups said that it was time for the British government to "allow the truth to be told".

Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch and the Six County-based Committee for the Administration of Justice in a joint statement called for a public inquiry.

The Strasbourg-based Court found the handling of the case had breached the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to the right to life. The Court also found the lack of independence indicative of the RUC probe into the Finucane killing 14 years ago represented a breach of human rights. This lack of independence "raised serious doubts as to the thoroughness or effectiveness with which the possibility of collusion had been pursued", said the Court.

The judges also criticised the inadequacy of the inquest into the killing for failing to include investigations of allegations of collusion and for refusing to allow the victim's widow, Geraldine Finucane, make a statement about death threats made to her husband.

"The inquest failed to address serious and legitimate concerns and could not be regarded as having constituted an effective investigation," said the judges.

Inquires conducted by London Metropolitan Chief John Stevens were also dismissed by the presiding judges as too late, too secretive and lacking the necessary rigour. The Court said it was unclear whether the first two Stevens' probes had been even concerned with investigating the Finucane killing.

And the third, "taking place some ten years after the event", said the Court, "could not be regarded as having been carried out promptly and expeditiously".

On collusion, the court said that no information had been given to reassure the Finucane family and the public that the rule of law had been respected. "There had been a failure to provide a prompt and effective investigation into the allegations of collusion by security personnel," said the Court.
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