Police Officer to face trial over Hamill investigation

by Democrat reporter

POLICE SOURCES have confirmed that an RUC constable is likely to be prosecuted following an investigation into police misconduct relating to the investigation into the murder of Portadown man Robert Hamill, the young Catholic kicked to death by loyalist thugs within sight of an RUC landrover in 1997.

The chances of a prosecution have increased recently following Andrea and James McKee recent admission in court that they had supplied false information to police investigators. Of the six men originally charged with Robert’s murder, five had the charges against them dropped in late 1997. A sixth assailant, Paul Hobson, was convicted on a lesser charge of affray but cleared of murder.

In October 1999, the Director of Public Prosecutions ruled that there was insufficient evidence with which to prosecute the RUC landrover crew.

Although a number of police investigations remain ongoing, family and campaigners have long called for a full independent, judicial inquiry into the circumstances of Robert’s death.

In July 2001, the Hamill case was one of six identified by the British and Irish governments involving concerns over state involvement in murders in the six counties. The two governments agreed to nominate an an international judge to hold a ‘private’ inquiry.

Although the family and campaigners have expressed serious concerns over the, as yet unspecified, terms of reference the judge would work under and are maintaining their demand for a public, independent, judicial inquiry, they accept that the Weston Park development might take them nearer to this objective.

“By agreeing to this course of action the British government is showing that it realises that there are serious concerns over the circumstances of Robert’s death, “ said campaign spokesperson Gerry Kelly.

It is understood that the government has promised to back a full inquiry if one is recommended by the private judicial inquiry. However, campaigners are fearful that a private inquiry may just turn out to be another delaying tactic.

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2002-03-29 15:39:40.
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