Families of 'shoot to kill' victims get European hearing

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The relatives of 12 Catholics shot dead in Northern Ireland yesterday won a hearing in Europe for their claim that a shoot-to-kill policy was operated by security forces.

The relatives of 12 Catholics shot dead in Northern Ireland yesterday won a hearing in Europe for their claim that a shoot-to-kill policy was operated by security forces.

The European Court of Human Rights will now decide whether the deaths, in four incidents between 1982 and 1992, breached the European Convention on Human Rights. Judges at the Strasbourg-based tribunal earlier this week heard a claim from the families of the men that they had been denied the right to life in the shootings by the RUC and the Army.

Now the alleged shoot-to-kill policy will be tested in court, with a verdict expected before the end of the year.

The legal victory for the families came six years after their complaint was first lodged at the court. The judges will investigate particularly whether official investigations were carried out into the killings, as required by the convention.

The four cases involved allegations of "excessive use of force, a shoot-to-kill policy or collusion by the security forces with loyalist paramilitaries".

Eleven of the dead men were killed by British security forces, with another shot dead by paramilitaries. In one of the cases, Pearse Jordan, 22, was shot and fatally wounded on the Falls Road in Belfast by RUC officers in November 1992. The security forces had stopped his car, but no guns, ammunition or explosives were found.

Mr Jordan was shot dead with three bullets despite being unarmed, an inquest later found. His 59-year-old father, Hugh Jordan, who launched the human rights action, claims the shooting was used as an alternative to arrest and trial.

In the bloodiest of the four incidents, nine men were shot dead during an IRA attack on Loughhall RUC station in Armagh in May 1987. The Human Rights judges were told, during an admissibility hearing this week, that 24 soldiers and three RUC officers opened fire on a van carrying the men.

Allegations of collusion between paramilitaries and the RUC arose from the shooting of a Sinn Fein member, Patrick Shanaghan, 30, nine years ago. The Ulster Freedom Fighters said they had killed him butrelatives claim the shooting was carried out with the explicit knowledge of the police.

Comments