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19 September 2002 Edition

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Devenney calls on Ombudsman to reopen investigation

Short Strand man Paud Devenney is calling on the 'Police Ombudsman' to reopen the investigation into his complaint against the RUC/PSNI.

Devenney, who suffered serious head injuries in May of this year, says he was assaulted by RUC/PSNI members at the junction of Madrid Street and Bryson Street as he tried to defuse a tense situation in the area.

The RUC/PSNI moved into the Short Strand of East Belfast after loyalists carried out a bomb attack in Madrid Street. The area was tense and Devenney, who is the chair of Sinn Féin's Belfast executive, was on the scene trying to keep things calm.

As he was negotiating with members of the RUC/PSNI at Bryson Street, they carried out a baton charge and it was at this point Devenney suffered his injuries.

Last week, the Ombudsman's Office said they had found no evidence that the RUC/PSNI had attacked Devenney and claimed that their office had received no cooperation from the public when they tried to investigate Devenney's complaint.

However, speaking to An Phoblacht, Devenney said he wants the Ombudsman to reopen the investigation and said he was "surprised the Ombudsman claimed there was no evidence to support his allegations".

He pointed out that he had met with members of the Ombudsman's Office and pointed that his solicitor had medical evidence and eyewitness accounts of what happened that night.

He added that as he is taking a civil case against the RUC/PSNI, he needed guarantees about what would happen to that evidence if it was handed over to the Ombudsman.

He explained that information that goes through the Ombudsman's Office goes to the Chief Constable of the RUC/PSNI and as his civil case for assault is against the Chief Constable of the RUC/PSNI, then it could prejudice his case if his solicitor handed over to the Ombudsman the evidence he had gathered.

"I am instructing my solicitor to release the eyewitness evidence that he has to the Ombudsman," said Devenney.
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