Guerin murder trial starts

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST trial for the murder of the Irish investigative journalist Veronica Guerin finally started hearing evidence today.

Months of legal wrangling over confidential statements by 20 police informers had repeatedly stalled the case of Dubliner Paul Ward, 34, who denies involvement in the killing.She was shot dead at the wheel of her car on the outskirts of Dublin on June 26 1996.

Earlier this year, the Irish Supreme Court refused the defence team access to statements after the state lawyer said they would rather abort the trial than show them.

Yesterday the Special Criminal Court in Dublin ruled that "in the interest of establishing beyond all doubt justice in this trial" the three judges would study the 40 statements and decide whether they were relevant to the defence of Mr Ward.

Another man, Brian Meehan, also from Dublin, is awaiting trial accused of the Guerin murder. And John Gilligan, currently facing trial in Britain on separate charges, is contesting extradition to Ireland on the murder count. A number of other people are thought to have been implicated in the murder but have still to be charged.

Ms Guerin had stopped her car at traffic lights when a motorcycle pulled up alongside her and the pillion passenger shot her six times.

The prosecuting lawyer told the court that Mr Ward had been present during a conversation planning the murder and afterwards disposed of the .357 Magnum revolver used in the killing. The weapon had never been recovered and there was no forensic evidence against Mr Ward, said Peter Charleton, senior counsel.

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