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1988: 'SAS killed lawfully' - Gibraltar jury
The killing of three unarmed IRA suspects by British soldiers was lawful, a Gibraltar court has found.

The jury took less than seven hours to reach the 9-2 majority verdict on the shootings in March 1988 of Sean Savage, Daniel McCann, and Mairead Farrell.

The elite SAS team shot the suspects because they believed the republican dissidents were about to detonate a remote control bomb in the tiny British territory.

The UK Government has welcomed the verdict.

But the brother of Ms Farrell called it a "travesty of justice" and appealed to the Irish prime minister to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

'Total vindication'

The inquest by coroner Felix Pizzarello has been the only official inquiry since the controversial killings six months ago.

After summarising the arguments of both sides, Mr Pizzarello told the jury to reach a decision on the lawfulness of the killings and instructed them to avoid an open verdict.

SAS counsel Michael Hucher called the result a "total vindication" of the soldiers' actions.

And John Laws, representing the Crown, told reporters there was no need for any further investigation.

"We've had a good, full judicial inquiry according to British law as applied in Gibraltar and that's the end of the matter," he said.

The solicitor representing the families of the three dead said he was disappointed but not surprised.

Paddy McGrory told the BBC he thought the verdict was flawed by choosing a jury from the colony which is intensely loyal to the British armed forces.

"It is something of a surprise and no comfort whatever to the British Government that not all the Gibraltar jurors could be persuaded these killings were lawful," he said.

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Watch/Listen
Paddy McGrory, the solicitor representing the families of the dead men
McGrory: disappointed but not surprised

SAS Counsel: "There's no victory in a case like this"



In Context
The IRA team had gone to Gibraltar to plant a car bomb at the weekly changing of the guard ceremony.

After the inquest relatives of the victims took the case to the European Commission of Human Rights.

It supported the findings of the Gibraltar court, but referred the decision to its higher court.

In September 1995 the Strasbourg court reversed the conclusion of the original inquest and the backing of the commission.

By a narrow margin of 10 votes to nine it found Britain had used excessive force and so breached Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

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