Irish Republican News · September 17, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Rapid conviction delays search for truth

Ken Barrett’s conviction yesterday for the murder of Pat Finucane does not help the search for the truth surrounding the lawyer’s murder, according to the dead man’s family.

It is thought the former paramilitary hit man and police informer and will be released in eight months under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Like British army agent Brian Nelson and another police informer, Billy Stobie, Barrett’s trial was never allowed to explore the issue of British Crown force involvement in the 1989 murder.

Speaking after Barrett was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment for his brother’s murder, Martin Finucane Martin said:

“The guilty plea and sentencing of Ken Barrett has never been our main concern,” he said.

“We have continually asked for the truth. Barrett’s plea of guilty means that much of that truth remains hidden.”

Mr Finucane said that prosecutions of members of the unionist paramilitary death squad which carried out the murder, had failed to establish the truth.

“We have had no input into Barrett’s prosecution and trial.

“We have seen none of the evidence nor would we ever have had the opportunity to challenge that evidence even if the trial had proceeded.”

Mr Finucane said his family had been excluded from taking part in the court proceedings.

“The government, of course, is fully aware of this, which is why it is continuing with prosecutions and trials against our wishes.”

Mr Finucane accused the government of using the judicial system to block any inquiry.

“The government has run out of excuses for delaying the establishment of a public inquiry into Pat’s murder,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said Mr Finucane’s murder remained at the heart of alleged state involvement in the murder of its citizens.

“Ken Barrett’s trial was used as an excuse to obstruct the recommendation of Judge Cory (report),” he said.

“This bogus excuse, which was always a red herring, can no longer be used as a reason for denying full disclosure of the truth.”

And in a joint statement four leading international human rights groups last night questioned the British government’s continued refusal to hold a public inquiry into the Finucane murder.

“Our observers of the trial this week were able to confirm that Ken Barrett’s guilty plea led to no significant information being made public during the court case,” the statement from Amn-esty International, British/Irish Rights Watch, Committee on the Administra-tion of Justice and Human Rights First said.

“Criminal proceedings have clearly been insufficient in getting at the full truth of the Finucane case.”

And speaking after a protest outside the court yesterday, spokeswoman for Firinne [Truth] victims group Sharon Pickering said: “Ken Barrett may have pulled the trigger in the murder of Pat Finucane, but who pulled his strings behind the scenes. Only a full, independent, international inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane can answer this question.”

Barrett, in his confessions to undercover police and press, claimed that the shooting of Mr Finucane in the kitchen of his north Belfast home was sanctioned by a police “connection,” who even provided details to “avoid police road blocks” that evening.

Justice Weir said despite Barrett’s “disturbing claim” the murder “was encouraged and faciliated by members of the security forces,” he had to “make it clear that this court has no means of assessing the correctness or otherwise of that allegation, nor is it any part of its function to do so”.

But he told Barrett that even if part or all of his allegations were true, “it could in no way mitigate the seriousness of your own admitted actions”.

Despite having written a series of letters last year warning he would expose collusion, Ken Barrett’s lips remained sealed when his trial began on Monday.

And a former RUC police detective who taped a confession of the murder by Barrett 13 years ago -- a tape which subsequently “disappeared” from police possession -- questioned why it had taken 13 years to achieve a conviction.

He pointed that Barrett was not an isolated case and that elements of the Special Branch police intelligence unit had allowed civilians and other police officers to be killed.

“When we suggested that we try to use the tape to get a proper confession from Barrett to secure a conviction we were obstructed and blocked by the Special Branch.

“Why did they want to protect such a man?

“Why wasn’t he charged with these crimes 13 years ago?”

Questioned if he believed Barrett’s guilty plea had been influenced by the offer of a government deal, Brown replied: “You could certainly be forgiven for thinking something like that has taken place.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News