British military blocking collusion ‘can of worms’

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The brother of a Belfast man murdered by a loyalist gang 50 years ago has revealed that he needs to inform the PSNI every time he visits his grave.

James McCartan, a Catholic from the Markets area of the city, was 21 when he was abducted from the Park Avenue Hotel in east Belfast on October 3, 1972, where he had been celebrating a wedding.

He was tortured that night in an infamous ‘romper room’ in east Belfast where loyalist paramilitaries subjected victims to sadistic beatings and torture.

His body was later found dumped in waste ground in the Mersey Street area after he had been shot in the head while he was hooded with his hands tied together.

“It’s just bringing back memories of what he went through, it’s terrible,” said his brother Hugh McCartan, speaking to the Irish News. “He was dead on. He used to come here to see me. He worked all his life and he was never idle.”

In recent years, he said he had received two death threats warning him to stay out of Holywood where his brother is buried. The family have plans to visit his graveside, but say they have to inform the police beforehand as Hugh’s life may be in danger.

Albert ‘Ginger’ Baker, a British soldier and a UDA paramilitary, was the only person ever convicted of the murder.

After confessing to involvement in four murders, 11 armed robberies, and extensive collusion between the UDA and the Crown Forces, he served 18 years in prison.

Despite this, the PSNI’s Historical Enquiries Team has insisted there is no evidence of collusion and have provided no new investigative opportunities in relation to the murder.

The truth, the family still believe, is that Baker was a British state agent.

“If they (the authorities) do tell the truth they’ll open a can of worms for all the other murders. But we just want an apology to admit that there was collusion,” said Brian.

This week a long-running civil case against the Ministry of Defence concerning allegations of state collusion with loyalist paramilitaries had been due to resume in the High Court.

The McCartan family and other victims have called for full disclosure of all the information the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) have on Baker as well as the names of those who served with British Army undercover units he was involved in.

It is understood the MoD is attempting to have the case thrown out for lack of evidence, with the next hearing now due in December.

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