‘Hooded Men’ call for independent investigation

Jim McIlmurray
Jim McIlmurray

Calls for an independent, impartial inquiry have been made after a judge described what happened to the Hooded Men in the 1970s as ‘torture’.

Jim McIlmurray, Case Coordinator, for the Hooded Men, said there should be no PSNI involvement.

“We would not in any shape or form accept the PSNI coming to us and stating they would be prepared to investigate the case,” he said.

Following last Friday’s ruling, Mr McIlmurray said: “If one statement stood out during Friday’s High Court judgement to me, it was a judge stating in public court that if the events here at issue were to be replicated today, the European Court of Human Rights would accept it as torture.

“There was no doubt what these men went through was torture, but it was significant that for the first time such a description was formally included in Friday’s judgment.

“Being forced to stand hooded in the stress position for several hours, deprived of sleep, food and water, subjected to loud static noise and thrown from a helicopter and severely beaten cannot be referred to by any other name, it is torture. Any right minded person has to feel a sense of outrage that individuals who were given the responsibility to uphold the rule of law and order could, with given authority, brutalise those in their custody.

“They were not interrogating 14 hardened criminals or terrorists, none of their victims had a criminal record nor had any of them been convicted of an offence arising from the troubles.

“What happens next remains uncertain, I do not believe the government will challenge the judgement. The written High Court judgement indicates that the matter of an investigation should be revisited but it did not prescribe how the issue should be taken forward.

“It is totally unacceptable that, within the past 46 years, the British government have never once conducted a proper investigation into the case.

“Not one person who carried out the acts or authorised it has ever been held accountable before the law.

“We now wait to see what form of an investigation will take place.”

A spokesman for the PSNI said: “We have received today’s judgment and recognise this is a sensitive and difficult issue for all parties.

“We will now take time to consider the judgment in full.”