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Police appeal of 'Hooded men' case to be heard

Liam Shannon, Francis McGuigan, Jim Auld Joe Clarke, Kevin Hannaway, and Brian Turley, who became known as the 'Hooded men', will be in Belfast today for a High Court appeal brought by the Chief Constable. Picture by Hugh Russell.

THE Court of Appeal will today consider whether a police investigation into the actions of soldiers and police during the interrogation of the so-called Hooded Men in 1971 should proceed.

Last year the High Court ruled that the PSNI must investigate the unlawful treatment of the 14 men.

In 1978, the European Court of Human Rights held that the UK had carried out inhuman and degrading treatment on the men when they were held without trial back in 1971.

The court fell short of defining this treatment as "torture".

Earlier this year the European Court rejected a request by the Republic find that the men had suffered torture.

The men were forced to listen to constant loud static noise; deprived of sleep, food and water; forced to stand in a stress position and beaten if they fell.

They said they were hooded and thrown to the ground from helicopters. Despite being at near ground level, they had been told they were hundreds of feet in the air.

In October last year, Mr Justice Maguire said that the PSNI's decision to end its investigation into the case in 2014 was "seriously flawed" and that a "completely fresh decision process should begin" adding it was “plain that the methods used were unlawful”.

However Chief Constable George Hamilton, the Secretary of State and the Department of Justice appealed the decision.

Amnesty International is named as an intervener in the case, the human rights organisation's first intervention in a legacy court case in Northern Ireland.

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty's Northern Ireland Campaigns Manager said the men had been "denied justice for nearly half a century".

"It's wholly unacceptable that, in 47 years, no one - not those who carried out the abuse nor those who authorised it - has ever been held accountable before the law," she said.

"This case underscores the need for a comprehensive means of dealing with historic human rights violations and abuses in Northern Ireland.

"The UK government must stop the delay and denial of mechanisms capable of dealing with the past and delivering truth and justice for victims", she added.

Francis McGuigan, one of the Hooded Men said they intended "to robustly defend this appeal".

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