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Judge asks police for secret papers on 1994 murder

By Chris Thornton

A High Court judge has become involved in a 13-year battle over secret inquest evidence about the sectarian murder of a pensioner which was witnessed by a hidden Army patrol.

For what could be the first inquest in Northern Ireland overseen by a High Court judge, Mr Justice Weir has told the PSNI to deliver him a full, unedited set of papers about the 1994 murder of Roseanne Mallon.

Soldiers a few hundred yards away heard the murder attack but were ordered " not to react".

The judge indicated that the secret papers should be delivered to him, instead of being reviewed in a secure PSNI location. The previous coroner hearing the case had been required to view the material in a PSNI station and was not allowed to take notes.

But in papers submitted to the High Court, the PSNI appears to be wrangling about letting go of the secret material - saying they would require his staff and premises to "undergo stringent security assessment".

A High Court hearing on the case and another delayed inquest is due to take place tomorrow.

Mr Justice Weir's demand for the documents represents a major escalation in the 13-year fight for an inquest into the murder, which has been hampered by police refusal to hand over documents.

Miss Mallon (76) was shot by UVF gunmen at her sister-in-law's home outside Dungannon on May 8, 1994.

Two months later, a hidden Army camera - believed to be monitoring republican suspects - was found aimed at the scene of the crime.

Police said it did not record the murder because it could not operate at night. But the Belfast Telegraph later revealed that a hidden Army patrol was dug in to look after the camera and they had reported the attack.

But they were ordered "not to react" by their base. It also emerged that senior police officers decided not to tell detectives investigating the murder that soldiers were witnesses or about the secret camera - even though the killers are believed to have scouted the scene when the camera was operating.

After two years of preliminary hearings, Miss Mallon's inquest stalled in 2004 over the secret material.

Martin Mallon, a nephew of the murdered woman, said he has concerns about police releasing material.

"They're making a stand about protecting their sources. We're not talking about IRA personnel being killed here, we're referring to a woman, a 76-year-old pensioner, being shot down. There would need to be some sort of explanation about what they're talking about when they're mentioning sources. "

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