The family of a deaf man who was shot dead by the British Army 42 years ago say they have unearthed documents that prove he was unarmed when he died.
Eamonn McDevitt was killed at Fountain Street, Strabane, following an anti-internment march on 18 August 1971.
At the time, the British military claimed the 28-year-old was waving a gun when he was shot. But people who were at the scene said he was merely waving his hands to attract attention.
The McDevitt family have fought a campaign to establish his innocence.
The documents they have in their possession now were uncovered with the help of human rights workers from the Pat Finucane Centre.
Eamonn McDevitt’s brother Sammy said the family never got over his death and they have called for an apology.
“I feel that we have been let down. We have been lied to all down the years,” he said.
Mr McDevitt said that after Eamonn’s death, the family was never the same.
“There never was that real happiness that we had,” he said. “When they shot my brother, they may as well have killed my father and mother. It was devastating.
“He was labelled as a gunman. People that you knew didn’t know what way to think. You didn’t feel right. You felt you couldn’t keep your head up.”
Mr McDevitt said the document proved his brother was not a gunman.
“I would just like a verbal and written apology for what the Army did. At this stage, I am not seeking a prosecution,” he said.
“We could not get the documents for more than 30 years. They were locked away. This document has proved our point in no uncertain terms. It shows my brother was not a gunman. It has proved us right all down the years. They knew, there was nothing, no forensics, no nothing and we are happy that the document shows this.”
Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre said the document was uncovered in the British Ministry of Defence’s national archives at Kew in England.
He said that the paper showed that the British Army, Crown Counsel and the British Ministry of Defence were all of the opinion that the overwhelming evidence from civilian witnesses was that Eamonn McDevitt had nothing in his hands when he was shot dead by a soldier.
Mr O’Connor said the Historical Enquiries Team (HET) had been investigating the shooting, but it has since been suspended.
“I think that the document is conclusive,” he said. “After the shooting, a civilian witness heard a senior Army officer shouting: ‘Who gave the order to shoot?’
“At the inquest, the coroner found Eamonn McDevitt was not armed at the time he was shot.”
Mr O’Connor said what was so galling for the family was the British Army’s claim that he was armed was “left in the air”.
He said it should not be left to the families to instigate extensive research to establish the truth of what happened to their loved ones.