Film questions IRA lynching conviction: Harrowing scenes before soldiers were shot

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The Independent Online
BBC TELEVISION last night broadcast harrowing film, taken from an army surveillance helicopter, of the scenes surrounding the murders of two army corporals who drove into an IRA funeral in Belfast five years ago.

It was broadcast in a BBC-1 Rough Justice documentary which claimed the footage demonstrated a serious miscarriage of justice in the case of a Belfast man, Pat Kane, who is serving life for murder.

Describing his conviction as manifestly unjust, it called on the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew, to exercise his discretion and release him.

The film, showing the soldiers being stripped and beaten before being shot, was broadcast in spite of a Northern Ireland judge's order that the footage should be used only during trials and should not be copied.

The programme did not show when the soldiers were shot dead by IRA gunmen. But it portrayed many events leading to the killings and showed one gunman, who has never been charged, making his escape.

An investigation by the Independent last May questioned the convictions of three men given life sentences for murder. Last night's documentary examined two key elements in an alleged confession by Kane, which formed important parts of the judgment of Mr Justice Carswell. It then used the helicopter film to show they did not in fact happen.

In one statement, accepted by the court, Kane admitted kicking one soldier who had been stripped of clothing. The film shows, however, that he did not kick the corporal then.

Kane also allegedly admitted bundling a priest from the scene, saying: 'I lifted the priest by the shoulder and started heading for the gates.' In his judgment Mr Justice Carswell referred to this, saying Kane seemed to have helped to eject the priest.

The film shows, however, that the priest was led away not by Kane but by another man. In the programme John Ware, the reporter, commented: 'The film shows without any doubt that Kane's admission to the police is false. It is quite impossible for him to have picked up the priest.'

More than forty people have been charged in connection with the incident. Many were acquitted or given non-custodial sentences, but a growing campaign has centred on three of those given life sentences.

The campaign was last night endorsed by the Catholic Primate of All- Ireland, Cardinal Cahal Daly, who said: 'I just can't understand how a life sentence was imposed on Pat Kane . . . I can't sit beside Pat Kane and say 'That man consciously murdered or was part of a conspiracy to murder or part of a common purpose to murder.' It just does not make sense to me.'

Kevin McNamara, Labour Northern Ireland spokesman, has called for the three cases to be reopened.

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