The killer of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane is enjoying his freedom after serving just 18 months of a 22 year sentence for the brutal murder.
UDA gunman and British agent Ken Barrett was released by the Sentence Review Commission under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement
It is believed that Barrett may have received a large sum of cash and a lucrative relocation abroad in return for his silence on state collusion between the UDA and British forces.
Barrett pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Finucane, who was shot 14 times in his family home in north Belfast by a British-run death sqaud.
Most of the gang were paid agents of British intelligence agencies, including the notorious Force Research Unit.
Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said that Barrett’s release had been a “further act of collusion”, claiming that the agent had ben treated in the same manner as Brian Nelson, the key link between the UDA and the FRU.
Mr Maskey said: “Nelson had also changed his plea to guilty in the last stages of his trial and was released during the late 1990s. He was relocated and was given a substantial financial package.
“There is no reason to believe that Barrett hasn’t been given the same treatment.”
The family of Pat Finucane said the release had been “inevitable” but was not the primary focus of the family’s efforts to establish the truth behind his father’s murder.
Mr Finucane’s son, Michael Finucane, said Barrett was simply an “expendable” asset within a systematic framework that had facilitated collision.
He added that the issue of state involvement in murder went “beyond the killing of one man”.
“We can only get the truth behind the murder of Pat Finucane, and the policy of collusion that facilitated it, if the process of inquiry is properly and verifiably independent.
“The British government has run out of excuses for delaying the establishment of such an inquiry, which they agreed to during the Weston Park talks between the two governments in 2001,” he said.
Mr Finucane pointed out that the British government was coming under pressure from the international community to ditch its controversial Inquiries Act.
The legislation restricts an inquiry’s role, giving British ministers the power to withhold information transpiring from an inquiry from the public.
The newly-published Amnesty International Report 2006 this week “denounced as a sham” the prospect of a Finucane inquiry under the Act. Meanwhile, the Dublin government has said it will not co-operate with the proposed inquiry, in solidarity with the Finucane family.
Said Mr Finucane: “The recent resolution passed by Congress of the United States has re-affirmed the pressing need for a credibly independent inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and rejected the British assertion that the Inquiries Act is capable of providing such an inquiry. Britain cannot maintain this fiction any longer.”
* The family of murdered Sinn Féin Donegal county councillor Eddie Fullerton marked his 15th anniversary on Thursday with the relaunch of a campaign for truth and justice about the killing.
Eddie Fullerton was killed by an Ulster Defence Association death squad that broke into his Buncrana home early on May 25, 1991.
The Fullerton family have consistently demanded a public inquiry into collusion and cover-up by the British and Irish authorities in relation to the killing.
“It is a year since Michael McDowell, the minster for justice, has given anyone any feedback about the case and even then it was only [after] significant pressure from Sinn Féin TDs,” said Amanda Fullerton.
Amanda who has taken over as the family’s spokesperson after Eddie’s son Albert was killed in a road accident on March 8 this year.