Finucane killer released

by Michael Hall

THE KILLER of Belfast defence lawyer Pat Finucane has received a generous relocation package by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) to ensure he keeps his silence on the extent of collusion in Ireland, it has been claimed.

It is understood he has been moved to an unknown location in Britain to begin a new life, under a new identity, organised by the MoD. Ken Barrett, a British agent and remember of a UDA death squad, was freed by the Sentence Review Commission last month after applying for early release under the terms of the Good Friday agreement.

Barrett had served nearly three years in an England jail and in Maghaberry prison. He pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Finucane, who was shot 14 times in his family home in north Belfast by a gang of UDA gunmen in 1989.

An investigation by metropolitan police commissioner, John Stevens, confirmed that several gang members were paid agents of British intelligence agencies, including the notorious Force Research Unit. Barrett admitted murdering Finucane when offering his services as a hitman to undercover journalists, believing they were drug-dealers.

Secret footage of the admission was featured in the BBC's 1992 Panorama documentary Licence to Kill. He also implicated the security forces in the killing. Security force sources in Ireland have described him as a "psychopath."

Barrett dramatically changed his plea to guilty during the last week of his trial for the murder at Belfast Crown Court in September 2004. He was jailed for a minimum of 22 years for murder and conspiracy to murder. Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey was also targeted by the UDA triggerman in June 1988 while he was having a meal at an Antrim Road hotel - one year before Mr Finucane's murder.

Another Shankill Road UDA man, Brian Nelson, contacted Barrett and told him of the Sinn Féin man's location. By the time Barrett arrived at the hotel, Mr Maskey had already left.

In 1992 Nelson pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to murder and was sentenced to ten years, after being exposed as a British agent by the Steven's inquiry team in 1990. Mr Maskey told the Irish Democrat:

"Nelson had also changed his plea to guilty in the last stages of his trial and was released during the late 1990s. He was relocated and was given a substantial financial package.

"There is no reason to believe that Barrett hasn't been given the same treatment. His last minute plea was a carbon copy of Nelson's and it is inconceivably that the MoD would not have reached an accommodation with its former employee to keep his silence, given the extent of his involvement and the damage he could inflict by disclosing the state's nefarious activities."

Mr Maskey said Barrett's secret relocation after his release had been a "further act of collusion". He said it was part of a wider attempt to stop the truth about Pat Finucane's murder and other extrajudicial killings of nationalists from ever entering the public domain.

"This is another level of covert collusion, whereby the facts about state murders remain covered up. The British government's Inquiries' Bill is an overt method of doing so. They are two methods of attempting to do the same thing."

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