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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Finucane killer freed from jail
Ken Barrett
Ken Barrett was told he would spend at least 22 years in jail
The man convicted of murdering Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989 has been released from Maghaberry prison.

Ken Barrett was given a life sentence in September 2004 and was told he would spend at least 22 years in jail. He has served almost three years.

It is understood Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain opposed his release, but the Sentence Review Commission found in his favour.

He qualified for early release after transferring from an English jail.

Pat Finucane was shot dead by the UDA at his north Belfast home in front of his wife and family.

It is one of the most controversial murders of the Troubles, with allegations that members of the security forces colluded with loyalists.

The Finucane family is unhappy with an inquiry which is being set up to examine the murder.

They say that it will not be able to establish the truth as it is being held under the Inquiries Act.


Mr Finucane's son Michael said the family's reaction to Barrett's release was one of acceptance, as it had been inevitable.

"The prosecution of individuals was never a primary focus for my family.

"We always felt that the murder of Pat Finucane went far beyond the killing of just one man," Mr Finucane said.

"What I'm not prepared to go along with is being told that a real inquiry is being established when obviously that is not the case."

The SDLP's Alban Maginness said the release would be difficult for the family but the issue was far from over.

"The failure of Downing Street to honour its commitment to a public, independent inquiry must be challenged, exposed and overturned," he said.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly claimed the British government had used the Barrett case to stall demands for a fully independent inquiry into the murder.

"The only way the truth can be uncovered about the murder of Pat Finucane is through the sort of independent inquiry demanded by the family," he said.

Former RUC detective Jonty Brown, who investigated Barrett, said he had given evidence against him at the life Sentence Review Commission hearing.

"I did my best to keep Barrett in jail. But I must accept and respect the commissioners' decision," Mr Brown said.

The three-day hearing took place at Maghaberry last week to decide whether Barrett should be freed.

Pat Finucane
Pat Finucane was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries
The commissioners had to assess whether he still had any connection to loyalist paramilitaries, and whether he posed a threat to the public.

Barrett has been held mostly in solitary confinement since his transfer to Maghaberry, kept away from other prisoners because of fears for his safety.

As a prisoner in England, he did not qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement.

This changed when he was transferred to Maghaberry prison in February 2005, and he became eligible for early release.

Revelations that loyalists who were security force agents had been involved in the killing led to allegations of collusion.

Barrett featured in a BBC Panorama investigation into the killing, during which he was secretly filmed talking about his role in the murder.

See undercover footage of Ken Barrett

Finucane killer could be released
16 May 06 |  Northern Ireland
Murky world of a loyalist killer
16 Sep 04 |  Northern Ireland
Loyalist admits Finucane murder
13 Sep 04 |  Northern Ireland
A question of truth?
13 Sep 04 |  Northern Ireland


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