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1 April 2004 Edition

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Cory report censored

BY LAURA FRIEL

The families of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and Billy Wright are expected to receive copies of reports into the killings compiled by Canadian Judge Cory as An Phoblacht goes to press. Relatives received the report on Wednesday, just 24 hours before publication but after months of delay by the British Government, but full disclosure is still not expected.

According to Sinn Féin's Human Rights spokesperson, Bairbre de Brún, the British Government is planning to publish only a heavily censored version of the Cory Reports. The Sinn Féin Assembly member for West Belfast was speaking after a meeting with the NIO Minister John Spellar. De Brún said that Spellar was unable to give the necessary reassurances that Cory's Reports would be published in full.

The British Government's response to Cory has been in sharp contrast to that of Dublin. In keeping with the government's commitments to Cory, Dublin published the reports in full last year and has accepted the judge's recommendation of one public inquiry.

The British Government refused to publish the reports, citing legal and security implications and it was only following a judicial review sought by the families of the victims that the British agreed to release the reports. However, it is widely believed that the reports will not be published in full.

Frustration at British Government stalling led Judge Cory to break with protocol earlier in the year and contact each of the four families himself. During telephone conversations the Judge informed each family that he had recommended public inquiries into all four killings. In each case there is evidence of British state collusion.

Recently seven US Senators, including the Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, wrote to Tony Blair calling for the release of the Cory documents and expressed "grave concern" at the British Government's handling of the matter.

But even before the Cory reports are published, the British Government is facing further embarrassment after it was revealed by a former RUC officer that Special Branch colleagues covered up nine more killings because they were committed by one of their unionist paramilitary agents.

The accusations have been made by former RUC Sergeant Johnston Brown and are contained in three dossiers being investigated by Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan. Two of the killings blamed on the informer are those of Portadown teenagers David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb, both hacked to death by unionist paramilitaries in Tandragee four years ago.

Meanwhile, an independent report is critical of the PSNI's human rights training record. Commenting on the findings, Sinn Féin spokesperson on policing, Paul Fleming, pointed out that the eighth report of the Oversight Commissioner expressed concern about there being no evidence to demonstrate the difference, if any, between the old failed human rights training and the 'new' programme of the PSNI.

"It is not surprising that human rights training within the PSNI falls short of the required threshold, given the widespread resistance to change within the PSNI that emanates for Hugh Orde down," said Fleming.

"Either we have a new beginning to policing or we don't. Unfortunately, with almost every passing day there is further evidence that resistance to change is as deeply rooted within the PSNI as it was within the RUC."

PSNI Chief Hugh Orde sparked further controversy this week when he complained that northern judges were failing to hand out sufficiently harsh sentences to convicted paramilitaries. Chief Judge Carswell immediately issued a statement contradicting the Chief Constable's complaint.

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