5 April 2001 Edition

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Jailed RIR man's Neo-Nazi links

A former British soldier arrested and questioned about the killing of Lurgan solicitor Rosemary Nelson was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for possessing weapons on Wednesday 4 April.

William Ian Thompson, who was a member of the British army's locally recruited Royal Irish Regiment, was arrested at his home in Hamiltonsbawn, County Armagh in March last year. In the raid on Thompson's home, the RUC uncovered an Uzi sub-machine gun, a sawn off shotgun and ammunition as well as bomb making material.

Material linking the 29-year-old to the neo-Nazi Combat 18 group and loyalist death squads was also uncovered in Thompson's home. His arrest was carried out at the instigation of police officers under the command of Colin Port, the English police chief in charge of the investigation into the killing of Rosemary Nelson, killed when a booby trap bomb exploded under her car outside her Lurgan home in 1999. Nelson had on previous occasions been threatened by members of the notorious RIR (formerly the UDR) and represented many nationalists who had been assaulted by both regiments.

While serving in the British Army, Thompson joined the neo-Nazi Combat 18 after meeting up with members of the fascist group in London. He reinforced his links with them when members of the organisation travelled to the North for loyalist rallies and demonstrations. Thompson resigned from the British army in May 1999. He was said in court to have been a trusted ally of the LVF leadership.

Sinn Féin's Dara O'Hagan, reacting to the sentencing of Thompson, said ``the issue of collusion has been highlighted again. It is time for a proper public inquiry into the killing of Rosemary Nelson. The British government must be made accountable for their murder gangs in the Six Counties''.

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