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11 November 1999 Edition

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RUC assault ex-POW

``Calm down, there's too many cameras around. We'll get him in the barracks,'' said one RUC officer to his companions as they carried out a savage attack on former republican prisoner Packie Leonard.

The incident, in which Leonard received severe bruising, occurred in the early hours of Monday 8 November in McDonald's on Belfast's Bradbury Place.

Leonard explained: ``I was standing at the counter and we were having a bit of banter with the staff when another man who was not with us started going too far. The staff called the RUC for the man but when they arrived one of the RUC officers grabbed me. I tried to pull away but then two other RUC men jumped on me. They then proceeded to beat me at the counter with batons for about 10-15 minutes before handcuffing me.''

He then explained how he was dragged outside and attacked again.

``When they got me outside they threw me face down on the ground and began to kick me around the head. That's when one of them said `Calm down, there's too many cameras around. We'll get him in the barracks'.''

Leonard was taken to Musgrave Street barracks and was again beaten as he was taken inside.

``When I got into the barracks, I asked to see the custody sergeant. When he arrived I asked him for the names and numbers of the arresting officers but he refused to give them to me. I was able to see one number myself and that was 16215 but I could not see any of the others,'' said Leonard. ``I was then charged with assaulting four RUC officers.''

When his solicitor arrived and Leonard informed told him that the RUC had refused to give the names and numbers of the arresting officers, the solicitor immediately made a complaint.

Leonard himself has made a complaint about the assault.

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