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14 January 1999 Edition

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'We are Special Branch'

A republican ex-prisoner is in fear of his life after four men dressed in civilian clothing, claiming to be RUC officers, tried to abduct him.

The incident happened on Monday evening at about 5.15pm as the man, a first year student at Queen's Univerity, was leaving an exam centre in the univerity's leisure complex. He told An Phoblacht that he noticed two men acting suspiciously, and apparently watching him, at the front of the building.

``One was talking on a mobile phone, the other was standing near the door. I went back and made a phone call then left by a side door, but I had to go past the front entrance and the pair spotted me and came after me. At the end of the street, at the Stranmillis Road junction, another two were standing about. I went to a bus stop but they came toward me and I moved away. Further up the street I made my way to a public phone box and two of the men approached me, one got in front of me and the other grabbed me''.

It was then that one of the men addressed the man by name and said, `come with us, we are Special Branch, and we want to talk to you for ten minutes'.

The man broke away and ran into a nearby bakery.

``At this point I was really freaking out, I didn't know who these guys were and thought I was going to be abducted and shot. I kept telling a bakery assistant that I thought I was going to be shot but she didn't take me seriously. Eventually I got her to ask the men for ID, which they produced''.

The ex-POW then left the shop and pushed his way through the second pair of men who were at the door and went to the phone box and called his family to arrange a lift home.

``As I was making the call the four tried to pull me out of the box and when I asked them if they were going to arrest me they threatened to `kick the fuck out of me'. They warned me that they would `be on my back any time I was out of West Belfast'''.

The man said that because of the row he had in the shop, which made their approach so public, the men left him alone to wait for his family to pick him up.

``I am fearful of my life,'' said the man, ``this incident was very frightening and then to be threatened in the way I was makes me believe these men were up to something sinister''.

An Phoblacht phoned the bakery into which the man fled and a manager confirmed that the incidnet had occurred. He also confirmed that he phoned the RUC about a second incident which occurred later that night and they admitted that it was RUC members who followed the West Belfastman.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1