12 April 2006

Disputed death case delayed until 2007

Family slams legal log-jam

By Michael McHugh
12 April 2006

Delays in a landmark House of Lords hearing on a controversial Troubles state killing have prolonged the agony of scores of victims, a representative of the family has said.

The case of 1992 victim Pearse Jordan will not be heard until 2007 and a member of the lobby group Relatives for Justice have hit out at the log-jam.

A 14-year history of legal proceedings has taken the family to the Court of Appeal and even the European Court in Strasbourg and the latest action surrounds a key article in the Human Rights Act 2000.

Deputy Director of Relatives for Justice Andrea Murphy said she did not expect the case, involving the disclosure of state documents and the power of coroners to make findings on state culpability, to be heard before 2007.

"This is a huge issue for the families because their grieving and ability to move on has been suspended by the courts," she said.

"If we are moving forward into a new era then inquests into cases which happened before the Human Rights Act should be compliant with the standards upheld today.

"The state is saying that the right to an Article 2 inquest will not be granted retrospectively for cases which happened in the past."

Mr Jordan was unarmed, but was shot in the back three times by RUC officers in an incident in Belfast.

Campaigners want the coroner to return a verdict of unlawful killing. However he is prevented under current law from doing this.

"The case has been postponed and postponed. We have a number of outstanding inquests which are all to do with killings in controversial circumstances where people have been killed by the state or where there were allegations of state collusion," Ms Murphy added.

"Those cases are not being heard until the Jordan hearings are over so we have a number of families who are all waiting on the same thing."

Many of the cases centre on Tyrone, some involving the SAS killing of members of the IRA in a Loughgall ambush.

A related matter being dealt with by the same panel of Law Lords focuses on Martin McCaughey who, along with Desmond Grew, was killed by soldiers on October 9, 1990.

A spokesman for Madden and Finucane, solicitors, who represent the Jordan family, confirmed that the case would probably not be heard until 2007.

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