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27 February 1997 Edition

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US attorney to stage Loughgall trial

RELATIVES REPRESENTING THE EIGHT IRA Volunteers and civilian Anthony Hughes shot dead by the crown forces at Loughgall in May 1987 are to travel to the United States to give evidence at a trial organised by US attorney Denis Lynch.

The trial is to be held on 8 March at Pace University, White Plains, New York, where Lynch, a partner in a New York law firm lectures. It will examine the families' complaint that the crown forces used ``excessive force when they killed the nine men at Loughgall'' and set up an ambush instead of attempting to arrest them, despite having prior knowledge of the attack on Loughgall RUC barracks. The trial will hear evidence from independent ballistics experts and pathologists.

The trial, according to Roisín Kelly, whose brother Patrick was killed in the SAS ambush, ``will take place like any trial in the US. A judge will preside over the proceedings and attorneys for each side will present their case. The `plaintiffs' will be the estate representatives of the nine killed at Loughgall and will be represented by two attorneys. The `defendants', the British Government, who deployed the SAS and the RUC will also be represented by two attorneys''.

The trial evidence will be given by law students acting as witnesses. Their evidence will be the ``identical testimony that was brought forward at the coroner's inquest'' last year.

However, in a letter to Kelly, Lynch said that the British, although invited to appoint someone to give an opening presentation to the trial, have not done so. ``We have received no response,'' he wrote.

Lynch also said the trial would take place without a jury, preferring instead to ``let the truth come out and have people themselves judge what the verdict should be''.

According to Roisín Kelly, the families of the dead see this trial as their first chance to examine the events at Loughgall. ``It took eight years for the inquest to get to the coroner's court, but the families only got the legal papers two days prior to the inquest so our legal representatives went to court not being fully familiar with the crown case''.

The families walked out of the inquest, which opened in June 1995, and sought leave to have a new inquest but their judicial review was dismissed in May last year by Diplock Judge McCollum.

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