A former Irish soldier from Belfast who gunned down three of his colleagues in the Lebanon in 1982 has been released from prison after serving over 27 years for the triple murder.
Michael McAleavey was given a life sentence for murdering three fellow army colleagues while on peacekeeping duties in Lebanon on October 27 1982.
Last night, a spokesman from the Northern Ireland Prison Service confirmed the west Belfast man was released from Maghaberry Prison earlier this week after serving 27 years and one month for the brutal slaying of Corporal Gregory Morrow, Private Thomas Murphy and Private Peter Burke.
“He was released on the direction of the Parole Commissioner and will be subject to conditions of his life licence under the Probation Board,” he said.
McAleavey, who is originally from the Falls Road area, served the majority of his sentence in Irish prisons but an application to be moved from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin to Maghaberry on humanitarian grounds was granted in October 2007.
At the time, McAleavey's solicitor Joe Rice said it seemed his client was getting a raw deal compared to paramilitary killers who were released early as part of the peace process.
“He has served his time, he has been a model prisoner in the Irish prison system and that is accepted by the many reports over the years,” Mr Rice said.
“If he had joined one of the illegal armies in Northern Ireland and had been convicted, he would have been released under the Good Friday Agreement. But because he joins the legitimate army of the Irish Republic, he finds himself in this situation.”
In a newspaper interview at the time of the application, McAleavey said: “In all my 22 years in prison I have never sought publicity.
“One of the major reasons for this is that I have always reflected on how an open appeal in the media would affect the families of the soldiers who were killed. I have hoped never to add to the burden of their suffering.
“And I hope that this appeal is seen only for what it is, a humanitarian application for transfer to another prison close to my family.”
However, the move — which coincided with the 25th anniversary of the murders — was met with criticism from families of the murdered men and the Irish United Nations Veterans Association.
In July 2008, former gardai Gerry O’Carroll described McAleavey as “one of the most evil and vicious killers” he had ever met who had never shown remorse.