The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has welcomed the acquittal of two former paratroopers charged with the murder of a dangerous IRA terrorist in Belfast in 1972.
Doug Beattie said:
“The collapse of the trial of two former paratroopers accused of the murder of an IRA terrorist in Belfast in 1972 highlights the huge difficulty that surrounds so-called legacy cases.
“I have always said that the law must be applied equally to everyone, whether a soldier, civilian or politician. Due process has been applied in this case and these men are now free to carry on with their lives. I welcome their acquittal.
“Many will question just how the PPS thought this case could ever have been brought to court, given it emerged that the two ex-Paras had not been arrested or interviewed before they were charged. A prosecution barrister also confirmed that neither man has ever been spoken to by the police.
“The PPS needs to explain how and why these men were put through this trial, and what implications the collapse of this case due to lack of admissible evidence will have on other legacy cases, particularly those involving former soldiers.
“At the time of his death the IRA said that Joe McCann was responsible for the murders of 15 soldiers. He was a ruthless and dedicated terrorist. My thoughts today are with all innocent victims.”