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Collusion cases in limbo as PPS delays

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has still not decided whether 20 policemen and soldiers will face trial for alleged collusion in loyalist murders – despite a delay of nearly three years.

In April 2003 Lord Stevens asked the PPS to decide whether 20 members of the security forces should face criminal charges relating to alleged collusion in a series of UDA murders.

However, nearly three years later the PPS has still not decided whether any will stand trial.

The Stevens Inquiry, his third into security-force collusion with loyalists, is believed to have cost £9 million since 1989.

But while the Stevens team confirmed collusion in the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane, none of the 20 files they passed to the PPS relate to security-force members implicated in that case.

There was huge public concern in April 2003 when Lord Stevens released extracts of his report confirming collusion.

"I have uncovered enough evidence to lead me to believe that the murders of Pat Finucane and Brian Adam Lambert could have been prevented," it read.

"I also believe that the RUC investigation of Pat Finucane's murder should have resulted in the early arrest and detection of his killers.

"I conclude there was collusion in both murders and the circumstances surrounding them."

Now, as Mr Finucane's family insist that they will not cooperate with a British government-controlled inquiry into his murder, nationalist politicians have raised concerns that the PPS has yet to make any decision on the other cases raised by Lord Stevens.

In 2003 the PPS said it would give "careful and expeditious consideration" to the Stevens files.

However, a PPS spokesman last night (Monday) confirmed that no decision had been taken on any of the 20 security-force members alleged to be involved in collusion.

The spokesman insisted that files were still under "active consideration" but blamed the delay on a combination of the "size and complexity" of the cases.

SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness said: "You would have expected a decision to have been taken in at least some of these cases before now.

"It is very disappointing and frustrating that the public is still waiting for some kind of determination after nearly three years in what is arguably one of the most high-profile and important investigations in the history of the state."

Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly said nationalists would be concerned that members of the security forces allegedly involved in collusion had not been brought before the courts.

"There will be a strong belief that the continued delay is because of political interference," Mr Kelly said.

"The families involved deserve the truth and Sinn Féin will continue to support their fight for justice."

February 15, 2006

This article appeared first in the February 14, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

This article appears thanks to the Irish News. Subscribe to the Irish News