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Judges appointed to probe most controversial killings

By Cate McCurry

Published 27/10/2015

A number of senior judges have been appointed by the Lord Chief Justice to oversee complex inquests into some of the most contentious killings of the Troubles.

A landmark meeting yesterday between Sir Declan Morgan and representatives from the Victims and Survivors Forum revealed how legacy inquests would be dealt with.

The cases include killings by police and soldiers, and others involving allegations of collusion.

Sir Declan, who will assume responsibility for the inquests when he takes on the role of presidency of the Coroners Courts next month, laid bare his plans to deal with the 54 cases.

Speaking at the conference in Belfast, he pledged to engage with the families of those who were killed in as "open and transparent way as possible".

Senior judge Lord Justice Weir is to undertake a comprehensive review of all legacy cases. The preliminary hearings will be scheduled in January next year.

An assessment will look at the state of readiness of each case, what further work needs to be done, and when cases might proceed to a hearing.

Justice Weir told the conference he hoped that a number of cases would be ready to be heard early next year.

However, Sir Declan cautioned that it could take years before most could be dealt with.

He added that a model similar to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry would undoubtedly speed up the hearing of cases, but added that this would involve some compromises.

There have been only nine cases disposed of in the past five years and 13 cases in total during the past 10 years.

Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson said that lengthy delays remained painful and distressing for families.

She added that it was "critical" that all parts of the judicial system were working towards a factual conclusion.

Belfast Telegraph

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