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6 June 2002 Edition

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Appointment of International Judge announced

As expected it was announced on Wednesday, 29 May, that retired Canadian judge Peter Cory (76) has been appointed to 'review' a number of controversial killings where there have been allegations of collusion.

The cases which fall within his remit are those of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson and Robert Hamill, where the British forces have been accused of actively or passively colluding with loyalist paramilitaries.

The judge will also look at the cases of RUC officers Bob Buchanan and Harry Breen and of Justice Maurice Gibson and his wife Cecily, who were killed in two separate incidents shortly after crossing the border, leading to allegations that a member of the GardaĆ­ had passed information on to the IRA. The killing of jailed loyalist leader Billy Wright by republicans will also fall within the remit of the Canadian judge.

The Finucane family are on record as opposing the appointment of an international figure who will merely review the available evidence as opposed to carrying out a full public inquiry. Both the Finucane family and human rights NGOs regard this development as another attempt to delay such an inquiry. Their suspicions that any international figure would not be granted adequate powers have been vindicated in comments made in media interviews with the judge since the appointment was announced this afternoon.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, Judge Cory admitted that he will have no powers to subpoena witnesses and has only been offered 'assurances' that relevant documents will be supplied by the authorities. Special Branch has withheld vital evidence from the ongoing Stevens Inquiry and the British Ministry of Defence has destroyed evidence relating to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.

Both the MoD and the RUC/PSNI have failed to supply relevant documents to the Barron Inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Against this backdrop, few believe that Judge Cory will be allowed any real insight into the murky world of the dirty war and the role of the security forces and services in political assasinations. This latest development follows the original RUC 'investigation' and three outside inquiries with no tangible consequences other than the murder of one of the key witnesses, William Stobie, probably at the instigation of Special Branch.

The judge also admitted that he would not seek or review any evidence pertaining to related deaths. This means that other killings involving the secret British Army unit responsible for Pat Finucane's murder, the Force Research Unit (FRU), will not fall within his review. These include the killings of Gerald Slane, Terence Mc Daid, Francisco Notarantonio and Patrick Hamill.

Judge Cory told the BBC that he had no knowledge of what level of cooperation he would receive from the families concerned. It would appear that the British and Irish governments have not advised him of the serious concerns felt by many at this development. His appointment is no substitute for a full judicial inquiry.
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