Vigil held on Finucane anniversary
Vigil held on Finucane anniversary

A vigil has been held in north Belfast to mark the 20th anniversary of the murder of defence lawyer Pat Finucane.

The murder remains one of the most controversial killings of the conflict, with British Crown forces known to have colluded in the lawyer’s murder.

Relatives, friends and colleagues of lawyer are to stage another vigil outside the High Court in Belfast on Thursday.

The anniversary will also be marked by a major conference at Dublin’s Trinity College this weekend.

Mr Finucane’s widow Geraldine, wounded in the attack which killed her husband, will address the event, as will former UN investigator Param Cumaraswamy and Canadian judge Peter Cory, who each probed the solicitors murder.

Mr Finucane’s clients included high-profile republicans. He was shot dead by a UDA death squad in front of his family at their north Belfast home in February 1989. It has since emerged that all of those involved in the murder, including its architect Brian Nelson, were British agents.

Amnesty International has launched a campaign to push for a fully independent probe after government offered a public inquiry into the case, but insisted it take place under new legislation which critics claim gives ministers undue influence.

“Patrick Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and three children,” said Amnesty International’s Britain director Kate Allen.

“Twenty years on, the truth about his killing is still kept from them and from the public.

“With each day that passes, the chances of an inquiry uncovering that truth get smaller.

“Already at least two potentially crucial witnesses have died.”

Ms Allen added: “With the Inquiries Act 2005, the UK government has tried to ensure that any inquiry will lack real independence.

“The government has made it clear that it intends to use the Inquiries Act to ensure that part of any inquiry into this case would be held in secret, behind closed doors and in the absence of the Finucane family.”

Amnesty has launched a global online appeal on its British and international websites urging people to write both to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Direct Ruler Shaun Woodward demanding an independent inquiry.

The Finucane family has refused to accept the inquiry offered by Downing Street and demanded a probe free of British government control.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing, allegations of a security force involvement were made by the Finucane family, but the claims were rejected by security forces.

In 2003 former head of the London police John Stevens released extracts from his own review of the case, confirming Crown force collusion in the killing.

His investigations uncovered evidence of “collusion, the wilful failure to keep records, the absence of accountability, the withholding of intelligence and evidence, and the extreme of agents being involved in murder”.

The full findings, however, remain secret and have never been made public or shown to the Finucane family or their lawyers.

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