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Monday, December 29, 1997 Published at 00:08 GMT


Investigation launched into Maze murder
image: [ An investigation at the Maze prison is underway ]
An investigation at the Maze prison is underway

An investigation is taking place into the major breach of security at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland which allowed two guns to be smuggled in and used to murder a leading loyalist inmate.

Finlay Spratt, Prison Officers' Association, Northern Ireland: "prison run by paramilitaries". (1' 33")
Billy Wright, known as the most feared loyalist terrorist in the Province, was shot dead by a hit squad of republican prisoners from the breakaway group the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), which is not taking part in the ceasefire.

Wright, 37, nicknamed King Rat, was gunned down on Saturday as he was escorted through the prison to the visitor centre.

A number of INLA men clambered on to the roof of H Block six and fired on Wright as he sat inside a white van with other prisoners. He was hit five times in the back and died instantly.

[ image: Wright shot five times in the back]
Wright shot five times in the back
INLA men and members of the LVF share separate wings of H Block six.

Three men, all thought to be members of the INLA, were being questioned by police. They surrendered without a struggle.

Guns found

Two guns were recovered and a Prison Service inquiry launched, centring on how the guns were smuggled into the jail.

Wright was recognised as leader of the renegade Loyalist Volunteer Force. He had long been under sentence of death from republican and loyalist terror groups.

The killing was a serious lapse in security, coming as it did so soon after the recent escape of IRA man Liam Averill who slipped out dressed as a woman after attending a party for inmates' children.


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