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IRA victim's father seeks new inquest amid claims Stakeknife killed his son

By Alan Erwin

Published 13/04/2016

The IRA murdered Joseph Mulhern in 1993
The IRA murdered Joseph Mulhern in 1993

The father of a man murdered by the IRA is taking legal action in a bid to secure a fresh inquest amid claims the British agent known as Stakeknife was involved in the death.

Frank Mulhern is seeking a High Court ruling that the Attorney General must direct a new probe of the circumstances of son Joseph's 1993 killing.

The legal challenge is based on allegations that Stakeknife, played a key role in the death.

Joseph Mulhern was abducted, interrogated and shot by the IRA, who accused him of being an informer. With no one convicted, the victim's father wants a review of a decision to refer the case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Papers lodged for the case claim the police have been aware of evidence that Mr Mulhern was killed by Stakeknife, who is said to have ran the IRA's internal security unit and who has been widely named as Freddie Scappaticci.

Last year, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Barra McGrory QC called for police to examine Stakeknife's activities, along with what was known by RUC Special Branch and MI5. Chief Constable George Hamilton has since decided detectives from an external force should handle an inquiry that could last five years and cost up to £35m.

But legal papers in the case claim there is no realistic prospect of a prosecution. They state: "Scappaticci is believed to have joined a witness protection programme and be living under an assumed name.

"There is no realistic prospect of the DPP and/or the PSNI conducting any investigation which will uncover links between the State and the murder of the deceased."

Separate proceedings have also been brought in a bid to compel the Police Ombudsman to investigate the shooting of IRA man Colum Marks. The 29-year-old was fatally wounded when police opened fire during an attempted mortar attack. In court yesterday, counsel for his relatives, who claim the RUC operated a shoot-to-kill policy, contended there was material to suggest a State agent was involved.

Their challenge is to regulations governing the Police Ombudsman's office that prevent the body from probing a case if there has already been a police investigation.

Mr Justice Maguire confirmed he would hear arguments in both challenges together later this month.

Outside court, solicitor Gavin Booth of KRW Law, representing the Marks family, said the RUC was aware of the IRA attack more than eight hours before the shooting.

"They had prior knowledge and didn't take the opportunity to arrest Mr Marks," he added. "The family seeks truth, justice and full disclosure."

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