Army anger as officers are linked to murders
By Thomas Harding, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 01/04/2004)
Daily Telegraph

Army chiefs are angry that criminal prosecutions are being
considered against two senior intelligence officers involved in combating terrorism following a report to be published today.

The officers' lawyers have also protested to the Attorney General because they believe the report's conclusions would prejudice any trial.

An investigation by Peter Cory, a retired Canadian judge, into four controversial murders in Northern Ireland will recommend public inquiries into each case.

The report, handed to families of the victims yesterday, is expected to name and criticise four senior officers connected with the Army's secretive Force Research Unit (FRU), which was formed to infiltrate and run agents inside terror groups.

The FRU has run into a mountain of controversy over allegations that Army officers conspired with loyalist terrorists from the Ulster Defence Association in the killing in 1989 of Pat Finucane, a Belfast lawyer who was allegedly connected to the IRA. One officer is named as Soldier J and another FRU officer is named as Soldier G, "an officer on sick leave" and criticised in the report.

The two other officers are referred to as Soldier AAA, a former
general officer commanding in Northern Ireland and knight of the realm, and Soldier AA.

Sources have told The Telegraph that the Army is furious with the report and has considered injunctions. A complaint has already been made to the Attorney General protesting against what it claims is its prejudicial nature.

The furore forced the Government to ask Judge Cory to write a foreword to the report in which he apparently states that his
findings are provisional and cannot be taken as formal determination.

The legal problems caused by the account have meant that it was delayed by four months as lawyers pored over it. Large extracts and a number of names have been blanked out.

There is also a fear that the costs for the public inquiries could, like the Bloody Sunday inquiry, spiral out of control. A former FRU operator who served under the officers said that it was simply not true that they had been involved in murders.

The officer told The Telegraph that while there was the odd "rogue", the system would weed them out.

"I am not saying we were squeaky clean but in the experience I had in Northern Ireland I have a clear conscience and can sleep at night.

"A lot of the work we did and continue to do is the right way to do it when faced with the terrorist situation we are and were in."

He believes that investigators have "assumed there is a scenario" then looked for the collusion "which fundamentally is not there".

He said the only man who would be able to shed light on whether there was collusion in the Finucane case was a UDA agent called Brian Nelson who died last year.

Soldier J was described as a man who "played the game with a straight bat".

"He never ordered the murder of anyone," the officer said. He
added: "It is very unfair. The soldiers cannot defend themselves."

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