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1989: Belfast lawyer Finucane murdered

Leading solicitor Pat Finucane has been shot dead at his home in north Belfast.

The killers burst in as he was eating his Sunday dinner with his wife and three children.

Two gunmen showered him with 14 bullets and shot his wife in the ankle.

Mrs Finucane is being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds to her legs.

The hijacked taxi the gunmen escaped in has been found in the Protestant Shankhill Road area.


"A tragic and wicked killing"

Tom King, Northern Ireland Secretary

Belfast lawyers have been deeply shocked by the murder of their high profile colleague.

The Northern Ireland Law Society reacted swiftly with "disbelief".

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) politicians have blamed junior Home Office minister Douglas Hogg for his remarks last month about some lawyers in northern Ireland being "unduly sympathetic" to the IRA.

'Wicked killing'

Mr Hogg issued a statement condemning the shooting hours after it happened.

"This is clearly, like so many others a tragic and wicked killing. As to its cause, that must be a matter for the RUC.

"I very much hope those people responsible will be arrested, and sentenced to extremely long terms of imprisonment," he said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Tom King said: "No civilised society can tolerate murder."

Most recently Pat Finucane had been involved in the defence cases for 23 men involved with the murder of two British soldiers during an IRA funeral last summer.

His most famous client was republican hunger striker Bobby Sands.

In Context
Loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Freedom Fighters admitted the killing the next day.

However, no individual was charged with the murder until May 2003, when loyalist paramilitary Ken Barrett was arrested.

Initially, he denied the charges, but then confessed during his trial at Belfast Crown Court in September 2004.

He was sentenced to 22 years in prison, but was released in May 2006 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

An inquiry into the murder by Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner John Stevens (later Commissioner Sir John Stevens), was published in April 2003.

It found there had been collusion by "rogue elements" of the police in Northern Ireland to help loyalist paramilitaries to murder Catholics in the late 1980s. It also concluded that there was such collusion in the murder of Pat Finucane, and that the killing could have been prevented.

The majority of the Stevens report, however, was withheld because of potential prosecutions in the future.

The report was dismissed by the Finucane family, who are continuing to campaign for a full independent public inquiry into the killing.


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