Two men arrested in search for Nelson killers

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The Independent Online

Detectives investigating the murder of the human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson in a car bombing two years ago were questioning two men last night. The two, aged 41 and 43, were arrested after three searches in the Belfast area and were being held at Gough detention centre in Armagh city on suspicion of serious terrorist offences.

Mrs Nelson, 40, was killed when a booby-trap bomb exploded under her car in March 1999. A loyalist paramilitary group calling itself the Red Hand Defenders admitted the attack.

RUC special branch informers and a former British soldier were said to be among those suspected of involvement There have been repeated calls for a public inquiry into questions of official collusion surrounding the murder.

Mrs Nelson, who had two children, was a leading defence solicitor who acted for nationalist causes in Lurgan and the nearby town of Portadown. She represented groups including the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition, which opposed the annual Orange Order parade down the predominantly Catholic road in Drumcree, and the Robert Hamill campaign. Mr Hamill was a Catholic from Portadown who was kicked to death by a loyalist mob in 1997 amid claims of RUC collusion.

Colin Port, the Deputy Chief Constable of Norfolk, was drafted in to lead the investigation into Mrs Nelson's murder shortly after her death. His 60-strong team has interviewed more than 10,000 people. There have been a handful of arrests but nobody has been charged with her murder. However, Mr Port has spoken of his confidence in tracking down the killers.

The move to introduce an outside inquiry was prompted by nationalist claims that security forces in Ulster set up the killing in Lurgan, Co Armagh.