Report highlights British checkpoint killing

The family of a County Tyrone man shot dead by the British Army 20 years ago has said the publication of a report into his killing marks the “beginning and not the end” of their fight for justice.

Twenty-four-year-old Aidan McAnespie was shot by a soldier as he walked through a border checkpoint at Aughnacloy in February 1988.

He had been on his way to a Gaelic football match at Aghaloo and had previously reported receiving death threats from soldiers at the checkpoint, which he passed through regularly.

The soldier claimed he had opened fire accidentally when moving a sub-machinegun with wet hands following cleaning duties.

A report by the PSNI police Historical Enquiries Team (HET) has stated this was “the least likely version” of what happened, pointing out that “considerable force” was needed to activate the trigger.

His family are now looking to pursue a prosecution against Aiden’s killer, who at the time was merely fined for mishandling his weapon.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr McAnespie’s sister, Elish, welcomed the report and claimed the full truth may nevercome to light.

“We welcome the fact that the HET has highlighted the glaring inconsistencies in the official version of events,” she said.

“Reluctantly we have come to terms with the reality that the full truth may never be established. Only the soldier and others on duty that terrible Sunday know what really happened but at least we have an official report which rejects the accepted version of the incident.”

The Dublin government appointed Garda Deputy Commissioner Gerry Crowley to investigate the killing after eye witnesses were reluctant to give evidence to the RUC. Earlier this year the family urged Bertie Ahern to release the findings of Mr Crowley’s report.

Ms McAnespie said the family were “disappointed and frustrated” by the 26-County’s Department for Justice’s refusal to allow them access to the report.

Mr McAnespie’s niece, Una McCabe, said the family intended to continue to seek the truth.

“The search will continue to go on and continue,” she said.

* The family of Donegal teenager Henry Cunningham intend to lobby the Dublin government to ask the British Prime Minister why details of his murder were not revealed at the time.

Last week, the HET published a report which revealed that the sub-machine gun used in the 1973 shooting came from a British Army base.

Robbie Cunningham, who was sitting alongside his brother in a van when he was shot by unionist paramilitaries, said he was “very annoyed” at how they were treated by the then RUC police after the murder.

“The fact that they knew what was going on and did nothing and that the British government knew what was happening to their guns is a dirty disgrace. All this information is coming out now but the RUC knew it at the time and never told us,” he said.

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