14 May 1998 Edition

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Mercenary aids Scots Guards

By Sean O'Tuama

The case of the two Scots Guards who were jailed for murdering Belfast teenager Peter McBride in 1992 took an ominous turn this week.

The guards' commanding officer at the time, the now infamous Lt Col Timothy Spicer, has been trying to pull a few strings behind the scenes to get them released.

In February 1995 he wrote to the London Times stating that his men, Fisher and Wright, had acted ``in good faith'' when they shot Peter McBride in the back.

It was Spicer's gang of mercenaries who overthrew the regime in the former British colony of Sierra Leone last year, murdering scores of innocent civilians in the process.

His company, Sandline International, supplied 30 tonnes of weaponry for the £7 million operation in defiance of UN sanctions.

Last week MPs George Foulkes and Andrew Welsh met the two Guards in prison. Afterwards Foulkes said, ``the purpose of the visit was to reassure them that everything that we could do as constituency MPs to secure an early release for them was being done.''

Later the MPs met Peter McBride's father, also called Peter. The family described the meeting as ``useful'' and added that ``the MPs made it clear that they do not contest the conviction, as opposed to those who are officially campaigning for their release on the basis that they are innocent.'' The family said they were ``extremely angry'' over the smear campaign against Peter by those wanting the Guards released.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
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