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Friday, December 14, 2012



BBC © 2012

 12 December 2012 Last updated at 15:29 GMT

Pat Finucane murder: 'Shocking state collusion', says PM

BBC Newsline's home affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney reports

The level of state collusion uncovered by a report into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane is "shocking", Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
However, the report concluded there had been "no overarching state conspiracy".
Sir Desmond de Silva's review confirmed that agents of the state were involved in the 1989 killing and that it should have been prevented.
Mr Finucane's widow, Geraldine, has dismissed the report as a "sham" and a "whitewash".
Mr Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his wife and children at his north Belfast home.
Pat FinucanePat Finucane was shot dead by loyalists in front of his family in 1989
The review, published on Wednesday, found RUC officers proposed Mr Finucane, 39, be killed, said they passed information to his killers and failed to stop the attack and then obstructed the murder investigation.
It also found that an Army intelligence unit, the FRU, "bears a degree" of responsibility because one of their agents, Brian Nelson, was involved in selecting targets.
The chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Matt Baggott, said the police fully accepted the findings of the report.
He offered a "complete, absolute and unconditional" apology to the Finucane family, saying they had been "abjectly failed".
He said that in the coming days the PSNI would discuss the report with the Police Ombudsman and the Public Prosecution Service.

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At every turn, dead witnesses have been blamed and defunct agencies found wanting. Serving personnel and active state departments appear to have been excused.”
Geraldine FinucaneWidow
"Pat Finucane's murder should never have happened and it is a catalogue of failing which now needs to be assessed to see whether there are people who can be held accountable," he said.
Mrs Finucane said the government had "engineered a suppression of the truth" behind her husband's murder.
His family have led a high-profile campaign for a full public inquiry into the murder but Mr Cameron has ruled that out.
Mrs Finucane said: "At every turn, it is clear that this report has done exactly what was required - to give the benefit of the doubt to the state, its cabinet and ministers, to the Army, the intelligence services, to itself.
"At every turn, dead witnesses have been blamed, and defunct agencies found wanting. Serving personnel and active state departments appear to have been excused.
"The dirt has been swept under the carpet without any serious attempt to lift the lid on what really happened to Pat and so many others."
The Finucanes did not co-operate with the review and the solicitor's widow said the de Silva report did not tell her much more than she previously knew about the case.

David Cameron said: "On behalf of the whole country, let me say to the Finucane family, I am deeply sorry"
Her son, Michael, claimed the government had refused their demand for a full inquiry because it did not want people to be questioned in public.

State collusion identified by review

• There were extensive "leaks" of security force information to the UDA and other loyalist paramilitary groups.
• There was a failure by the authorities to act on threat intelligence.
• Employees of the State and State agents played "key roles" in the murder.
• There was a failure to investigate and arrest key members of the West Belfast UDA over a long period of time.
• There was a wider "relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice" after the murder had taken place.
Sir Desmond found that "senior Army officers deliberately lied to criminal investigators" and that RUC Special Branch "were responsible for seriously obstructing the investigation".
The report concluded that Nelson did not provide his handlers with details of the plot against Mr Finucane.
It found that MI5 received intelligence two months before the killing that Mr Finucane was under threat but that no steps were taken to protect him.
It also found that MI5 helped spread propaganda against Mr Finucane in the years before he was killed.
Sir Desmond found that "in 1985 the security service assessed that 85% of the UDA's 'intelligence' originated from sources within the security forces".
And he was "satisfied that this proportion would have remained largely unchanged" by the time of Mr Finucane's murder."
Sir Desmond de Silva QC carried out the review at the government's request. The Finucanes want a public inquiry as they feared the full truth would not emerge.

Northern Ireland Chief Constable Matt Baggott said the police service offered an ''absolute'' apology to the family of Pat Finucane
In his report Sir Desmond said: "A series of positive actions by employees of the state actively furthered and facilitated his murder and that, in the aftermath of the murder, there was a relentless attempt to defeat the ends of justice.
"My review of the evidence relating to Patrick Finucane's case has left me in no doubt that agents of the state were involved in carrying out serious violations of human rights up to and including murder.
"However, despite the different strands of involvement by elements of the state, I am satisfied that they were not linked to an over-arching state conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane."
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Cameron was strongly critical of the RUC and Army for their conduct in relation to the killing.
He said Sir Desmond concluded that there was "no political conspiracy" over the murder but that "ministers were misled".
Mr Cameron added that the report found "no evidence whatsoever that any government minister had fore-knowledge of Mr Finucane's murder".
He said that on behalf of the government and the whole country he wanted to say to the Finucane family that he was "deeply sorry".
Last year, Mr Cameron acknowledged there was state collusion in Mr Finucane's murder and apologised to his family.
In the report, Sir Desmond found that an account one of the murderers, Ken Barrett, gave to the BBC Panorama programme about receiving intelligence from the RUC was "essentially accurate".
However, he added that some specific allegations made by Barrett against individual officers were not reliable.
Former Ulster Unionist MP Lord Maginnis of Drumglass said the apology was "ridiculous".
"The reality is that the Finucane family were an IRA family and I can illustrate that by saying that, when I gave that allegation publicly and was being sued for libel, the family retracted and paid my legal expenses," he told the House of Lords.
"So let's not fool ourselves about the godfather Finucane, who was killed."


UK pays £2.2m to settle Libyan rendition claim

Sami al-SaadiSami al-Saadi still wants the UK government to say whether Britain was involved in his kidnapping

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The UK government has agreed to pay £2.2m ($3.5m) to a Libyan dissident and his family who say MI6 was involved in their illegal rendition.
Sami al-Saadi and his family were forcibly transferred to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libya in 2004.
Their lawyers say the pay-out ends the family's legal action against the UK, in which they were arguing MI6 was instrumental in their kidnap.
The UK still faces a further allegation of rendition from another Libyan.
Mr al-Saadi was a leading Gaddafi opponent and says that he was forced on board a plane in Hong Kong, along with his wife and four children, in a joint UK-US-Libyan operation.
The family were flown to Libya where Mr al-Saadi was subsequently held and tortured.

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Even now, the British government has never given an answer to the simple question: Were you involved in the kidnap of me, my wife and my children?”
Sami al-Saadi
The allegations came to light during the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi, when documents relating to the alleged agreement to transport the family were found in Libya. the documents, found in the office of Col Gaddafi's spy chief, stated that the UK had helped to organise the rendition.
'No liability'
In a statement issued by his solicitors, Mr al-Saadi said he was settling because his family had "suffered enough".
Referring to why he had accepted a pay-out, he said: "[My children] will now have the chance to complete their education in the new, free Libya.
"I will be able to afford the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered in prison.
"I started this process believing that a British trial would get to the truth in my case. But today, with the government trying to push through secret courts, I feel that to proceed is not best for my family.
"I went through a secret trial once before, in Gaddafi's Libya. In many ways, it was as bad as the torture. It is not an experience I care to repeat. Even now, the British government has never given an answer to the simple question: Were you involved in the kidnap of me, my wife and my children?"
In a statement, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm that the government and the other defendants have reached a settlement with the claimants. There has been no admission of liability and no finding by any court of liability."
Sapna Malik, solicitor for the al-Saadi family at law firm Leigh Day, said: "The sheer terror experienced by the al-Saadi family when they were bundled on to their rendition flight and delivered up to their nemesis clearly lives with them all to this day.
"Having concluded one part of their quest for justice, they now look to the British criminal courts to hold those responsible for their ordeal to account and await the judge-led inquiry they have been promised."
The deal to end the al-Saadi action comes while the government is under pressure over its proposals to expand court secrecy in cases such as this one, so they can be fought behind closed doors. Ministers argue that they cannot properly defend the actions of the intelligence and security agencies unless they can withhold part of their case from the public and the individual who is suing them. Critics say the system is unfair and would prevent wrongdoing coming to light.
Inquiries continue
This is not the first settlement by the government in which the security and intelligence agencies have faced allegations relating to their alleged involvement in the treatment of detainees by foreign regimes.
In 2010, ministers authorised a multi-million pound pay-out to men from the UK who were held in Guantanamo Bay - a deal that avoided their evidence of alleged collusion with the US emerging in open court in what could have become a mammoth legal battle.
Abdel Hakim BelhajRebel leader Abdel Hakim Belhaj claims MI6 aided his rendition in 2004, when he says he was tortured
Prime Minister David Cameron then pledged to launch a judge-led inquiry into allegations against the secret agencies - but that probe was later scrapped, with a promise that there would be a new one once the police had finished investigating the Libyan rendition allegations.
Although Mr al-Saadi and his family have settled, a second man, Abdul Hakim Belhaj, is continuing with his legal action against the British government and wants a trial in open court.
Mr Belhaj and his pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar were detained in Malaysia in February 2004 en route to London.
His lawyers claim that MI6 sent a fax to the Libyan intelligence services informing them of their detention. They say they were subsequently flown to Tripoli, blindfolded, hooded and shackled to stretchers. Once there, Mr Belhaj alleges he suffered four years of torture and isolation.
Mr Belhaj is suing the former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, and a former senior MI6 official, Sir Mark Allen, as part of his action. Responding to the al-Saadi settlement, Mr Straw said: "At all times I was scrupulous in seeking to carry out my duties in accordance with the law, and I hope to be able to say much more about all this at an appropriate stage in the future."
Human rights charity Reprieve said there needed to be an immediate "full and fair inquiry" into rendition.
Legal director Kat Craig said: "Everyone agreed that Lord Justice Leveson could do his work properly with serious criminal charges pending against many of the key people. There is nothing to stop the Libyan torture inquiry beginning tomorrow."

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