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12 March 1998 Edition

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Lawyer threatened again

By Peadar Whelan

With a UN report into RUC threats against defence lawyers in the Six Counties to be published soon, one of those at the centre of the UN investigation has told An Phoblacht that she has again been threatened.

Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson said that one of her clients reported that the RUC made the threats against her when he was held for seven days in Castlereagh interrogation centre .

The man told An Phoblacht that the RUC said to him, ``new legislation was brought in in 1989 to do away with solicitors who concoct stories''. It was not until he told Ms Nelson about this that the full import of the threat became clear.

It was in 1989 that a UDA gun gang - operating with information supplied by British Military intelligence agent Brian Nelson - shot dead Belfast human rights solicitor Pat Finucane. Mr Finucane was killed three weeks after British Home Office minister Douglas Hogg told the House of Commons some solicitors in the North were, ``unduly sympathetic'' to paramilitary organisations.

The Lurgan man had been held in Castlereagh and questioned by the RUC about the killing of local man Kevin Conway last month.

While being questioned the RUC told the man, who wishes to remain anonymous, ``you will go down in history as the man who got Sinn Féin thrown out of the talks''.

The man is convinced the RUC were going to try and charge him despite the fact that he has ``no interest in politics'' and is ``certainly no activist''.

``On two or three occasions the RUC told me they would make sure I was charged and that it would be used as an excuse to have Sinn Féin thrown out''.

Ms Nelson now intends to lodge a complaint with Mr Cumaraswamy, the UN special rapporteur who conducted the UN's investigation into the threats against solicitors last year as well as the Law Society, which represents members of the legal profession and the CAJ.

Mr Cumaraswamy's report is due out this month but in a preliminary briefing in October last year he said the UN had over the years received reports of harassment against defence lawyers.
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An Phoblacht
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