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Exhumation of Army victim's body ordered

By Rebecca Black

The body of a man who died after being shot by British soldiers 40 years ago will be exhumed as part of an investigation into his death.

Father-of-nine Joseph Murphy (41), from the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast, was shot after soldiers opened fire on August 9, 1971.

He later died of his injuries in hospital.

However, his family say they have never discovered the full truth of what happened to him.

Mr Murphy was one of 11 men who died following incidents involving the Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy between August 9 and 11, 1971.

Tensions had been high across Northern Ireland at that time because of the introduction of internment without trial on August 9.

Yesterday during an inquest into the deaths of the men in Ballymurphy, Coroner Jim Kitson ordered that Mr Murphy's body be exhumed. He said if he had not ordered the exhumation the family would "forever be left wondering if an important piece of evidence" had been missed.

"They have waited more than 40 years," he added.

"They are entitled to expect that the investigation will be conducted with rigour."

Speaking after the ruling, Mr Murphy's daughter Janet Donnelly welcomed the decision.

"We have been searching for the truth of what happened to my daddy," she said.

"While he was on his deathbed my father told my mummy, who is still alive today, that while in the custody of the soldiers in the Army barracks that he was shot again by the paratroopers."

The family claim a medical examination showed a bullet in their father's leg despite there being an exit wound, proving that he was shot again.

John Teggart, who lost his father Danny in the Ballymurphy Massacre and speaks for the relatives, said they have been waiting more than 40 years for the truth of what happened.

"Families have a right to a proper legal verdict in relation to their loved ones notwithstanding the existence of a future Historical Investigation Unit.

"We are waiting over 40 years for answers of what happened to our loved ones, we will protect that right.

"Families like ourselves have fought for too long to have our day in court and inquests must not be bargained with in any shape or form. We demand the PSNI/MoD release all evidence to our legal team. We need a properly funded independent Article 2 compliant inquest."

Mr Murphy's family were awarded compensation in 1976.

Background

Eleven people died during three days of disturbances in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast during August 1971.

On August 9, internment without trial was introduced, sparking riots across Northern Ireland.

A number of people were killed but Ballymurphy saw the most intense bloodshed.

Ten Catholic men, including a priest, were shot by members of the Parachute Regiment while an eleventh died from a heart attack following an altercation.

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