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25 April 2002 Edition

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Crossmaglen man needed seven stitches

Peter Caraher, a member of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents' Committee, was severely beaten while in RUC/PSNI custody last week.

Caraher and two other men were arrested in South Armagh after heavily armed Crown forces raiding parties smashed their way into their homes last Thursday, 18 April. The three were airlifted to Crossmaglen RUC/PSNI barracks, where they were charged with offences relating to an Ógra Shinn Féin protest at a number of British military installations in South Armagh last December.

In the short time the raiding party was in his home, they abused Caraher and his wife Toni. At one point they put the couple's nine-year-old son Peter in the kitchen, alone except for armed RUC/PSNI personnel, and refused to allow his mother in to him.

After his arrest, Caraher was put into a helicopter and during the short flight to Crossmaglen he was verbally abused by the RUC/PSNI before one RUC/PSNI member dropped the heavy steel ram used for smashing in doors onto his foot.

Said Caraher, "luckily I saw it coming and moved my foot away before it landed right on me. It glanced the side my foot, which is now badly bruised and swollen".

It was while being held in Crossmaglen barracks that Caraher was set upon by the RUC/PSNI and forced to the ground. One of the gang who assaulted him stood on his head, inflicting cuts to his scalp. He then placed his boot behind Caraher's ear and twisted it round, causing a gash that required seven stitches.

After his release, some two hours later, Caraher attended his doctor and was later referred to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry for further treatment. He suffered severe bruising to his forehead, left temple and cheekbones well as the stitches behind his ear. He also suffered bruising to his rib cage and chest.

In a statement, Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy said "the brutality meted out to Peter Caraher and the other two people arrested while in RUC/PSNI custody must be thoroughly investigated by the Police Ombudsman. The nationalist community realise that this is nowhere near the conduct expected from this so-called new police service.

"The arrest of these men is an attempt to silence any opposition or criticism of the British military spyposts in this area. People are very angry at the brutality used by this so-called new police service whilst holding this man in Crossmaglen Barracks. Nothing can justify this type of violent and abusive treatment, which is no different to that of the RUC. In recent weeks we have seen homes wrecked in Derry and Belfast, republicans arrested as part of a cover up into the Castlereagh raid, a Sinn Féin office in South Armagh raided and now we have this morning's activities".

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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