BRITAIN: Finucane investigation flawed

Issue 

BY DALE MILLS

The European Commission for Human Rights, Europe's senior human rights court, ruled in a judgment delivered on July 1 that the British investigation into the murder of civil rights solicitor Patrick Finucane was flawed.

Finucane was shot dead in front of his wife and three children by two masked unionist terrorists in 1989. Sections of the British Army and the Northern Ireland Special Branch have long been suspected of involvement in the murder — a conclusion supported by a report by London's chief constable, which was publicly released in April.

The ECHR held that the Northern Ireland Police (formerly called the Royal Ulster Constabulary) was not independent enough to properly investigate the murder and ruled that there were "serious doubts as to the thoroughness or effectiveness with which the possibility of collusion [with those who killed Finucane] were pursued ... there were indications that informers working for Special Branch or the security forces knew about, or assisted in, the attack on Patrick Finucane."

The court reported that the inquest into the murder "failed to address serious and legitimate concerns of the family and the public and cannot be regarded as [having] provided an effective investigation into the incident or a means of identifying or leading to the prosecution of those responsible".

Members of the Finucane family and civil rights lawyers have long called for a public inquiry into the killing, which the British government has repeatedly refused. An international public inquiry, with full judicial powers of discovery and subpoena, would be justified, as the British state and its intelligence services cannot be expected to be impartial in investigating their own activities.

The Finucane family has been waiting 14 years for a proper investigation. The court awarded 43,000 euros compensation to his wife, small comfort for his brutal death.

A copy of the case Finucane v the UK can be found listed under "Recent Judgments" at <http://www.echr.coe.int>.

From Green Left Weekly, July 9, 2003.

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