Saturday, 28 June 2014

Forensics hope over Troubles cases

A Belfast coroner is to meet with forensic experts and pathologists to establish if modern day techniques can shed new light on evidence from historic Troubles killings.

Jim Kitson will have discussions with representatives from the State Pathology Department and Forensic Science NI in the coming weeks.

"I want to see what is feasible," he told a preliminary inquest hearing in Belfast.

Mr Kitson said he would assess the potential of reviewing forensic and pathology evidence in a number of so-called legacy inquests he is presiding over.

He outlined details of the scheduled meetings at the hearing in Belfast into the deaths of IRA men Michael "Peter" Ryan, 37, Anthony Doris, 21, and Laurence McNally, 38, who were gunned down in an SAS ambush in Coagh, Co Tyrone in June 1991.

The coroner has already indicated he is going to explore the possibility of a review of pathology evidence in a new inquest into the deaths of 10 people shot by British paratroopers in Ballymurphy in west Belfast in 1971.

Mr Kitson acknowledged both the "time and resource" capacity of the pathologists and forensic experts would be a factor in how much work could be carried out.

Earlier this year Mr Ryan's mother Kathleen was one of six people awarded £7,500 compensation by a High Court judge in Belfast after the police, Coroners Service and a number of other state bodies conceded that delays in six long-standing inquests amounted to a breach of human rights.

Mr Kitson today confirmed that the inquest's scheduled September start date was now "unworkable" due to a number of outstanding issues.

Among matters still to be resolved are the scope of the probe; disclosure of Ministry of Defence personnel files on soldiers involved in the incident; and potential applications for Public Interest Immunity (PII) on certain material deemed by the police and MoD to touch on national security concerns.

While ruling out September, the coroner expressed hope the inquest could be listed without excessive further delay as many matters were set to be resolved over the court's summer recess.

Saturday 28 June 2014


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