16 May 2006

Finucane killer could be released


Ken Barrett was told he would spend at least 22 years in jail

The man convicted of murdering solicitor Pat Finucane could soon be released from prison, it has emerged.

Ken Barrett was given a life sentence in September 2004 after admitting his role in the 1989 murder. He was told he would spend at least 22 years in jail.

He heard he did not qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement because he was in a prison in England.

This changed when he was transferred to Maghaberry prison in February 2005, and he is now eligible for early release.

The Sentence Review Commission is holding a three-day hearing at Maghaberry to decide whether he should be freed.

Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries

The commissioners will sanction his release if they are satisfied that he no longer has any connection to loyalist paramilitaries, and does not pose a threat to the public.

Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain will make a submission to the hearing to help the commissioners reach their decision.

It is understood this may include sensitive intelligence information from the police.

The hearing is due to end on Wednesday and a decision is expected before the end of the month.

Barrett has been held mostly in solitary confinement since his transfer to Maghaberry, kept away from other prisoners because of fears for his safety.

Mr Finucane, a Belfast solicitor, was shot dead by the UDA at his north Belfast home in front of his wife and family.

It is one of the most controversial murders of the Troubles, with allegations of collusion.

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