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13 January 2000 Edition

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Nelson family to challenge DPP's failure

by Laura Friel

The family of assassinated Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson may seek a judicial review of the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute members of the RUC who threatened her life. Nelson died in a car bomb attack last March. Prior to her death, she had formally complained about harassment, including death threats from the RUC.

Two RUC officers were named and others were identifiable through description in three separate files sent to the Independent Commission for Police Complaints. Before Rosemary Nelson's killing, serious misgivings about the RUC investigations into the allegations led to the RUC officer in charge being replaced by a senior London Metropolitan police officer.

The Nelson family heard of the DPP's decision not to pursue prosecution of the RUC officers involved when her husband, Paul Nelson, telephoned the DPP's office last week. He described the decision as a ``body blow'' for the family. ``Nearly ten months after her death, there is no sign of any commitment to truth and justice for Rosemary,'' said Paul.

Dr. Robbie McVeigh of the Rosemary Nelson Campaign said it was time for the Irish government to support international calls for an independent judicial inquiry into Rosemary's killing. The DPP's decision comes at a time of growing international disquiet at the failure of the current investigation into the killing to secure any arrests.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann Dara O'Hagan said the death threats are well documented and were the subject of an investigation by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy who, before her death, specifically expressed his fears for Rosemary Nelson's safety.

``We have had the ridiculous charade of the RUC investigating death threats against Rosemary Nelson emanating from their own organisation,'' said O'Hagan. ``The ICPC had such serious concerns about the conduct of the RUC investigation that they called in the London Metropolitan police. The outcome of this investigation has once again shown that truth and justice are nonexistent concepts in the North of Ireland.''

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin's spokesperson on policing, said that once again the RUC has been able to act with impunity when it comes to the treatment of nationalists. ``The DPP is not fit to adjudicate the actions of the RUC. This decision magnifies the need for all decisions concerning policing, the judicial system and human rights to be put into the hands of an independent international body until such time as we can create proper independent, fair and impartial systems of justice.''
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