IRA Volunteer Stanislaus Carberry was killed as he travelled in a hijacked car on the Falls Road in west Belfast, 50 years ago this week.
Eyewitnesses said a British soldier opened fire as Mr Carberry tried to surrender with his hands above his head.
The British Army claimed he was a passenger in the car that had opened fire on them, but the force reported no injuries and no weapons were recovered. A second man who was with Mr Carberry escaped.
Despite statements by the British soldiers estimating that there was a crowd of between 50 to 200 watching events unfold, some of whom witnessed the incident, not one of these people was asked to provide a statement.
Stan’s children have, for years, sought to get a proper investigation into the incident which requires the soldiers to explain their actions. Instead, the state protected them from accountability and sought to frustrate the family’s search for truth.
In the absence of any other mechanism, and after years of campaigning and legal actions to access state-held information, a civil case came to trial this year. It has great significance for many other such incidents where British soldiers killed people during the conflict in disputed circumstances.
Remarkably, when faced with an accusation of unjustified killing, the state has come to court with no witnesses and no evidence. None of the soldiers who fired shots at Stan Carberry have been brave enough to attend and explain themselves, an attitude suggestive of disdain for the loss they caused, and for the family left without a father.
Mr Carberry’s son, Stan Carberry, is suing the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the killing. He said that there was no proper investigation of the killing in 1972.
“My father was no threat to the soldiers when they opened fire,” he said.
“There was no proper independent examination of the soldiers’ claims at the time.”
Mr Carberry noted that images have been found that show “that the car my father was in was hit by many more bullets than the soldiers claim to have fired”.
“This has had such a devastating effect on out family. I was only nine years old when my daddy was taken away from me. My mam had to struggle to rear all of us with out her husband and she never really recovered,” he said.
Mike Ritchie from Relatives for Justice, which has supported the Carberry family, said: “This is an important case, a test for many of the more than 1,000 civil cases lodged by victims of state violence against the MoD, the PSNI and the NIO (Northern Ireland Office).
“Lawyers for the British state argue that, due to the lapse of time, such hearings cannot deliver justice.”
“This is very convenient seeing that the British government has delayed for so many years previous attempts to establish proper Article 2 compliant mechanisms to deal with the legacy of the conflict.”