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19 December 2002 Edition

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Nelson and Mallon family seek justice

"There remains only one avenue to establish the truth and that is the setting up of a fully independent judicial inquiry," relatives of the murdered Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson said this week.

The family's statement followed the announcement that Colin Port, the British police officer in charge of the investigation into the 1999 killing, will be standing down. Calling for a public inquiry, the family said they had doubted for some time that the probe would lead to arrests.

"Bearing in mind that this investigation has been ongoing for almost three years and nine months, and also that not one charge in relation to Rosemary's murder has been levelled against anyone, we doubt very much that we will ever come face to face with Rosemary's murderers," said the family.

In a remarkable parallel to the Finucane killing, Rosemary Nelson received threats from members of the RUC in the run up to the killing. The defence lawyer sought protection under the British government's Key Persons Scheme but was denied extra security.

It is widely believed that, as in the case of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane, British Crown forces colluded with the loyalist paramilitaries behind the attack. The Dublin government is amongst a number of international bodies supporting the campaign for an independent inquiry.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness described it as "incredible" that the Port investigation team had never questioned those members of the RUC who issued death threats against Rosemary Nelson prior to the murder.

"The current investigation has proven that it is incapable of finding the truth behind the killing of Rosemary Nelson," said McGuinness. "The family's demand for a full independent judicial inquiry has gathered even more momentum with the resignation of Colin Port."

Meanwhile, a nephew of Roseanne Mallon - the pensioner shot dead by loyalist gunmen in May 1994 - has called for a public inquiry into his aunt's death. In was later revealed that a covert unit of British soldiers were watching the house at the time of the attack, but no attempt was made to intervene.

Almost nine years after her death, Roseanne Mallon's inquest is yet to be concluded. The latest in a series of delays came after the PSNI refused to release a number of documents. The PSNI claimed that all relevant documents had already been submitted to the coroner's court.

A solicitor acting on behalf of the Mallon family contested the PSNI's assertion. "It is simply not correct," Martin Donaghy told the court.

Copies of the British Army's logbooks and tapes made on the day before the killing have also yet to be submitted to the court. Mallon's nephew said he believed the relevant authorities would have to be taken to the High Court before they would comply with the request for disclosure of relevant documents.

"I do foresee that this will end up in another court," said Mallon, "as far as we are concerned nothing has changed within policing and we don't expect to get justice."

Michelle Gildernew MP who had attended the hearing said Sinn Féin would continue to support the Mallon family in their fight for truth and justice. There are two issues to be addressed, she said.

"First, having colluded with those who carried out the killing, the British state appears to act to prevent the truth being established," said Gildernew, "second, the continuing failure of the PSNI to co operate with inquests into controversial killings."
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