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Orde announces review of O'Hagan probe

(Bimpe Fatogun, Irish News)

A review will be held next year into the investigation of the murder of Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan, the chief constable has announced.

Sir Hugh Orde has given the undertaking in a letter to the Belfast and District Branch of the National Union of Journalists.

It comes after members of the branch hand delivered a letter addressed to the chief constable last week on the fifth anniversary of Mr O'Hagan's murder demanding to know why no-one had been brought to justice for the crime.

Mr O'Hagan was gunned down by the LVF as he walked with his wife back to their Lurgan, Co Armagh, home on September 28 2001 following an evening at a nearby pub.

Although there have been eight arrests during the murder investigation, no-one has been charged in the five years since it happened.

A number of key suspects have been identified in the press.

Mr O'Hagan was the first working journalist to be killed in Northern Ireland since the outbreak of the Troubles in 1969.

Sir Hugh had drawn criticism for failing to have an officer present to receive the letter from the union last week.

In a formal reply yesterday (Friday), he said the force "shares the frustration of Mr O'Hagan's family, friends and colleagues that no-one has been made amenable for this crime".

He stressed that "an extensive investigation into the murder has taken place" but despite this there is "insufficient evidence to charge any individual".

Shortly before his death, Mr O'Hagan had expressed concern after being told that he was possibly under surveillance by members of the LVF.

The loyalist group had long harboured a grudge against him following the journalist's work exposing its campaign of nakedly sectarian assassinations against Catholics and large illegal drugs distribution network.

He was the first journalist to draw attention to the activities of the LVF founder Billy Wright, who lived only a few miles from Mr O'Hagan and had reportedly attempted to have Mr O'Hagan murdered in 1992.

That threat led Mr O'Hagan to temporarily move to the Sunday World office in Dublin, and then to Cork, although he returned to his family in Lurgan before the paramilitary ceasefires.

October 9, 2006

This article appeared first in the October 7, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

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