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11 February 1999 Edition

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British involvement in Finucane killing

Document to name names



By Laura Friel

Information which identifies those involved in the murder of Pat Finucane, the civil rights lawyer who was shot dead at his Belfast home in February 1989, is to be presented to the Dublin government by members of the dead man's family.

The family hope for a further meeting with the British government at a later date. The Finucane family will be travelling to meet Irish government representatives this Friday, the tenth anniversary of Pat's death.

On 12 February 1989, Pat Finucane, his wife Geraldine and the couple's three young children were settling down for an evening meal when three masked gunmen burst into their home. Finucane was shot five times at close range and died immediately.

Three weeks earlier a British Home Office Minister Douglas Hogg had publicly accused ``certain solicitors'' in the North of Ireland of being ``unduly sympathetic to the IRA.''

At the height of the collusion controversy with the Stevens inquiry and subsequent trial of Brian Nelson, the killing of Pat Finucane continued to play centre stage. From John Ware of the BBC's Panorama to Sean McPhilemy's book ``The Committee'' the murder of the Belfast lawyer has attracted journalistic investigation. The call for an independent international judicial inquiry has been endorsed by Amnesty International, British/Irish Rights Watch together with several leading US lawyers and Irish American Congressmen.

Information in a 60 page document, which the Finucane family will be presenting to Dublin officials, names people involved in the killing, detailing their precise roles. The document identifies the plot to kill Finucane as part of an ongoing British military operation rather than the one-off action of a maverick individual. Those named in the document include members of the British army some of whom gave evidence at the trial of Brian Nelson but whose identity was obscured.

The myth that Brian Nelson was a UDA informer whose role was to save lives is also finally debunked. Nelson's role as a British agent tasked with infiltrating loyalist paramilitaries, directing their activities towards acting as assassination squads at the behest of Nelson's British masters is revealed. According to those who have seen the document, the information also links the RUC to the killing.

Last March British journalists John Ware and Geoffrey Seed disclosed in the Sunday Telegraph extracts of classified British army files that suggested a covert unit of military intelligence engaged in a form of ``shoot to kill'' between 1987 and 1990. The files show that the British army's `Force Research Unit' infiltrated an agent Brian Nelson into the largest of the loyalist paramilitary groups, the UDA, specifically for the purpose of helping them to target IRA suspects for assassination.

Ware described the disclosure as ``the first time documentary evidence had been produced in support of the allegation that the [British] army had been involved in assassination.''

Ware's article was dismissed by NIO Minister Adam Ingram as ``unsubstantiated allegations''. The covert FRU was set up and run through British army HQ in Lisburn, at the cost of many millions of pounds. Clearly to attract such substantial funding, the activities of the FRU and its agents must have been sanctioned at the highest level.

The document to be presented by the Finucane family in Dublin on Friday is accompanied by a petition of lawyers demanding a full public, international and judicial inquiry. Legal action against the British Ministry of Defence is currently being pursued through the courts and a case has been lodged with the European Court of Human Rights. Last Year United Nations special rapporteur, Dr Data Param Cumaraswamy backed calls for an inquiry into the Finucane killing.
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