Republican News · Thursday 21 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

No festive cheer at Market

In an unprovoked assault three RUC members beat a stall holder in St George's Market, Belfast at 9am on Friday morning, 15 December.

Speaking to An Phoblacht a witness to the attack said that one RUC man set upon the local man, ``without warning and without reason'', and that two other RUC members joined in the attack.

The first RUC man hit the stallholder, Stephen Benson from Friendly Street in the nearby Markets, a blow on the back of the head. When Benson fell to the ground two other RUC men knelt over him, punching him.

According to other eyewitnesses, the RUC then dragged Benson away handcuffed and as they did so they banged him against railings. The trader was taken to Musgrave RUC barracks, where he was charged with assault.

Phoblacht has learned that the RUC later removed the tape from a security camera that overlooked the scene of the assault and may have captured the incident on film. ``They claimed it was part of their investigations,'' said market supervisor Andrew Irvine.

Rita Benson, Stephen's mother, who arrived at the Market to find out what was happening, was told by an RUC man to look for her son ``in fucking Musgrave Street''.

In a statement, Sinn Féin's Sean Hayes said ``the RUC beat this man savagely in front of a filled marketplace, They made no attempt to act in a reasonable manner while arresting him. This is what nationalists have come to expect from the RUC.''

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