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18 July 2002 Edition

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No charges for soldier who shot Manus Deery

Human rights campaigners are furious about the refusal by British authorities to prosecute a soldier who they admit acted unlawfully when he shot and killed Derry teenager Manus Deery in 1972.

The criticisms came on Thursday 11 July as the Derry-based human rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre, released details of new information it has obtained regarding a number of cases of killings by the British Army, including that of 15-year-old Deery, who was shot dead in the Bogside as he returned home after buying chips.

In a letter to the PFC, the Northern Ireland Office admits that the soldier who fired the shot which killed Manus Deery had acted outside the army's own guidelines contained in the 'Yellow Card', the Ministry of Defence rules which, in theory, determine when British soldiers can open fire, although there have been countless incidents when these rules have been breached. Until now, the army had maintained that the soldier fired at a gunman, a claim always rejected by Manus Deery's family.

Despite the admission by the NIO that the soldier acted illegally, it also confirmed that the Director of Public Prosecutions would not be ordering criminal proceedings. Shane O'Curry, spokesperson for the Pat Finucane Centre, criticised the DPP decision, saying: "We want to know what happened to that soldier and what reasons the DPP had for not prosecuting."

The NIO letter also refers to 20-year-old Jim Gallagher, who was shot and killed as he sat on a bus that was travelling past the Fort George army base in 1976. The soldier responsible, a member of the 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment, was prosecuted and found guilty of unlawful killing. However, he only served half of his five-year sentence.

On behalf of the dead man's family, the Pat Finucane Centre is demanding an explanation of why the soldier received such a light sentence.

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