8 April 1999 Edition

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RUC block Hamill investigation

The family of murdered Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill has claimed that the RUC did not allow family solicitor Rosemary Nelson access to security camera footage from the scene of his murder two years ago.

Three weeks before her murder, Rosemary Nelson contacted the Pat Finucane centre in Derry to register a complaint about the RUC's failure to give her access to the footage. This claim has been backed by the Hamill family.

The RUC has claimed that they viewed the video footage but decided that such footage was of ``no evidential value''. This claim has been bitterly attacked by the Hamill family, who are angry that the RUC did not allow their solicitor to make such a decision for herself.

Hamill was kicked to death on 27 April, 1997. At the time RUC officers in a Land Rover watched the attack and did not intervene even when Robert Hamill's friends pleaded with them.

At the time of her death, Rosemary Nelson was planning to take a private criminal prosecution against those responsible for Hamill's killing and had requested to view the tapes as part of this investigation, but access was denied by the RUC.

Meanwhile, Diane Hamill, sister of Robert, is set to travel to the United States to relay her experiences of the RUC to Congress on 22 April. Congressman Ben Gilman, chair of the House of Representatives' International Relations Committee, is holding hearings into policing in the Six Counties. Diane Hamill will be able to address the House, speaking for ten minutes and then answering questions from members of Congress.

She also announced that the fund set up to help bring her brother's killers to justice has now reached £55,000 and the family's legal team is now preparing their next step.

Last weekend also saw her travel to London to help launch a new civil rights movement, which will highlight the death of her brother and a number of racist murders in England. ``This movement will be highlighting Robert's case and a lot of racist ones in England. We share our experiences and learn from each other,'' she said.

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