Soldier denies cover-up claims
An SAS soldier manufactured an account of the shooting of two IRA members to cover up the use of excessive force, it was claimed at an inquest.
Dessie Grew, 37, and Martin McCaughey, 23, died when troops fired 72 bullets at the pair near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.
The military witness, who gave evidence from behind a curtain at Laganside courts in Belfast, was identified only as Soldier C.
A barrister representing the men's families, Karen Quinlivan, contested claims he fired 19 rounds because he believed he was under attack, though it later emerged the republicans did not shoot. Ms Quinlivan said: "That is an account that you have made up in order to justify the excessive force that you used on the night in question."
Soldier C confirmed the troops had the mushroom shed near Loughgall under surveillance amid suspicions a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism.
He confirmed troops gave no warning before firing, but he rejected claims he had fabricated his account and said he had opened fire in response to flashes that later emerged to have been caused by bullets fired by the soldiers.
The jury heard Soldier C had claimed to have opened fire because he believed his life and those of the other troops were at risk. After a colleague started shooting at the two men, Soldier C said: "I thought there were more men. More men could be hiding. I seen flashes that I thought were muzzle flashes."
The inquest, which is in its fifth day, has already heard from a doctor who examined the dead men and said they were lying near guns. The inquest is one of several so-called security force "shoot-to-kill" incidents which have sparked controversy and a series of official investigations.
The officer commanding at the time of the present matter, Soldier K, has denied there was a policy of shoot to kill.
The inquest continues.