Freed Ulster killers urge murder inquiry

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The killers of Loyalist leader Billy Wright walked free from prison today denying they colluded with the Government over the slaying.

The killers of Loyalist leader Billy Wright walked free from prison today denying they colluded with the Government over the slaying.

Irish National Liberation Army recruits Christopher McWilliams and John Kennaway said Wright was murdered simply because he wanted to kill Catholics.

But they urged a public inquiry to finally establish the facts.

Along with a third prisoner, they shot the Loyalist Volunteer Force leader as he boarded a prison bus inside the Maze jail. They served just three years of a life sentence.

Speaking outside the prison, McWilliams said he had no regrets, but added: "I want to emphasise that as an individual I took no personal satisfaction out of playing my role to eliminate Billy Wright.

"A decision was taken to eliminate Billy Wright solely because he was the man who had opted to direct a ruthless campaign of slaughter of innocent Catholics from inside Long Kesh."

The third assassin, John Glennon, was released yesterday.

About 20 INLA supporters greeted McWilliams and Kennaway as they walked from the prison.

Kennaway, disguised with a cap and dark glasses, was ushered to a waiting car and whisked away as McWilliams spoke to the press.

He described as "hypocrites" Unionist politicians who had called for a public inquiry and he offered to return to the Maze Prison to stage a reconstruction of the murder.

McWillliams said the INLA ceasefire was fully intact and he supported the peace process.

Next week Wright's father, David, will take a British Irish Rights Watch report on the killing to Westminster.

The report will also be sent to the British and Irish governments and to the United Nations.

Mr McWilliams said he regarded the Wright family as the "equal victims to the countless other families who have suffered as a result of the conflict in our country".

Wright, former commander of the Ulster Volunteer Force Mid Ulster Brigade, was shot dead as he prepared for a visit from his girlfriend and child.

The INLA gang climbed a roof from their prison wing, cut through a fence and ran across a prison yard where they shot Wright as he sat inside the van.

McWilliams was the main assassin, producing a 9mm Makarov pistol and opening fire on Wright at point blank range.

The feared Loyalist leader was hit up to seven times and a post-mortem examination found he was killed by a fatal wound to his chest.

At their trial in October 1998 McWilliams, Glennon and Kennaway smiled as the judge, Mr Justice Kerr sentenced them for life.

A hero to many in the Loyalist community, Wright formed the breakaway LVF after his unit was expelled from the UVF for its part in the murder of Catholic taxi-driver Michael McGoldrick after Loyalists had called a ceasefire.

His death sparked a bloody wave of revenge killings of innocent Catholics by members of the LVF, aided by the Ulster Freedom Fighters.