British Crown investigates itself
British Crown investigates itself

Nationalists have criticised the PSNI’s Historical Enquiry Team (HET), as it begins an investigation into more than 3,000 killings during the conflict in the North.

The specialist team of police detectives will investigate the actions of the IRA, unionist paramilitaries and British Crown forces and report directly to PSNI Chief Hugh Orde.

Victims’ groups have called for the establishment of an independent international inquiry to investigate murders carried out by members of British forces.

Relatives of people murdered by British soldiers last night voiced doubts over whether the new team would will deliver the truth about the circumstances surrounding the murder of their loved ones.

The inquiries team head has said no serving members of the murderous PSNI Special Branch -- also known as the C3 unit -- would be attached to the team.

An Fhirinne, a group representing the victims of British state killings and collusion, said there was no faith in the new team within nationalist communities.

“We believe our relatives were murdered by British agents, including members of RUC/PSNI Special Branch,” said spokesman Robert McClenaghan.

“Those RUC/PSNI members who organised, equipped and ran the unionist death squads are now being asked to furnish the HET with information, evidence and witnesses about hundreds of unsolved murders they themselves were involved in.

“Those accused of murder are being asked to reinvestigate themselves. That is why the HET will fail to get to the truth about collusion.

“Only an independent, international inquiry will have the authority and confidence of victims` families to get to the truth about collusion and State murder.”

The Historical Enquiries Team begins its work today, focusing on an initial batch of 100 cases and are examining all the unsolved murders in chronological order. The first case dates back to April 1969.

Sinn Féin’s victims spokesman Philip McGuigan and Mark Thompson, of the nationalist victims’ group Relatives for Justice, also voiced doubts about the Historical Enquiries Team.

Mr McGuigan, an Assembly member for North Antrim, argued: “However much this scheme is dressed up, it is still an internal unit of the PSNI, and is very much the case of the state investigating the state.

“The PSNI record to date in cases of state murder has been one of cover-up and concealment.”

Mr McGuigan said his community was also hugely sceptical of the British Government`s commitment to truth, justice or dealing with the past, and the HET did nothing to address that.

Mr Thompson said the HET was a limited police and criminal justice initiative aimed at addressing the past in absence of a proper non-punitive truth recovery process.

“It will, by definition, not address the nature, causes and extent of the conflict,” he said.

“The fact that it is a police investigation may prove problematic in the long-term with possible prosecutions.

“But, more importantly, the very same institutions that were at the heart of the conflict as protagonists are undertaking this initiative and are answerable to Peter Hain. It is not independent.

“As a result, we fail to see how such an approach can be compatible with international human rights investigative standards, in particular Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News