Last man given death sentence in NI makes appeal bid

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The Independent Online

Lawyers for the last man to receive a death penalty sentence in Northern Ireland are to seek access to a secret dossier as part of attempts to overturn his conviction.

West Belfast man Liam Holden faced execution after being found guilty of murdering a British soldier during the early years of the Troubles.

He claims water torture was used to extract a confession from him. Following his conviction in April 1973 he was sentenced to death, only for the punishment to be commuted to life imprisonment soon after.

Holden, from the Ballymurphy area, served 17 years in jail before applying to an independent body set up to examine alleged miscarriages of justice.

Earlier this year the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred his conviction back to the Court of Appeal on the basis that it may be unsafe.

The move followed an examination of new evidence and the admissibility and reliability of confessions in the case.

Holden's legal team have told judges that the issues involve a confidential annex which has not been seen by the defence.

It was confirmed in the Court of Appeal that an application will be made to gain access to the dossier before finalising their challenge.

Holden was convicted of murdering Paratrooper Private Frank Bell in September 1972.

* Source: The Belfast Telegraph.