23 May 2006

Finucane killer freed from jail


**Maybe Barrett can hang out with Scap now. Why not? Maybe they can all write a book together with Stone and Adair. Maybe Gerry and Martin can have a tea party for them.

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

The man convicted of murdering Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 has been released from Maghaberry prison.

Ken Barrett was given a life sentence in September 2004 and was told he would spend at least 22 years in jail. He has served almost three years.

It is understood Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain opposed his release, but the Sentence Review Commission found in his favour.

He qualified for early release after transferring from an English jail.

Pat Finucane 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 that members of the security forces colluded with loyalists.

A three-day Sentence Review Commission hearing took place at Maghaberry last week to decide whether Barrett should be freed.

Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries

The commissioners had to assess whether he still had any connection to loyalist paramilitaries, and whether he posed a threat to the public.

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

As a prisoner in England, he did not qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement.

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

Revelations that loyalists who were security force agents had been involved in the killing led to allegations of collusion.

Barrett featured in a BBC Panorama investigation into the killing, during which he was secretly filmed talking about his role in the murder.

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