Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

New statements from soldiers sought

New statements are being requested from SAS soldiers involved in the killing of two suspected IRA men in Londonderry in 1984

SAS soldiers involved in the ambush and killing of two suspected IRA men almost 30 years ago have been asked to give fresh statements on their role and orders.

Daniel Doherty, 23, and William Fleming, 19, were shot dead in the grounds of the Gransha Hospital in Londonderry in December 1984.

It was alleged that the pair, who were both from the city, were planning to carry out an attack on an off-duty UDR soldier when the SAS opened fire. Lawyers representing the families of the two men have now requested that the SAS soldiers provide new statements ahead of a fresh inquest into the controversial deaths.

An original inquest was held two years after the shootings but in 2010 Northern Ireland's attorney general, John Larkin, ordered another hearing after finding that police documents had been withheld from the coroner at the time.

But last year, Northern Ireland's current senior coroner John Leckey suspended the new inquest, and a number of others ordered by Mr Larkin, questioning whether the attorney general had exceeded his powers.

A High Court judge subsequently granted interim relief to Julie Doherty, the widow of Mr Doherty, that enabled a preliminary inquest hearing to progress on Wednesday pending a scheduled judicial review into Mr Leckey's decision next month.

After the preliminary hearing in Belfast, a lawyer for both families claimed the SAS soldiers did not provide full details on the ambush when interviewed by Royal Ulster Constabulary detectives in the wake of the killings.

Fearghal Shiels, of Madden and Finucane, said the SAS personnel also did not reveal whether they had been involved in other "lethal force incidents".

"We have requested that the soldiers responsible for killing the deceased provide new detailed statements outlining the planning and control of the military operation and providing details of other lethal force incidents where death or serious injury occurred," he said.

He said the information was necessary in order for the inquest to comply with "current human rights standards". Mr Shiels said he was awaiting a Ministry of Defence response as to whether new statements would be facilitated. The next preliminary hearing is set to take place in April.

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