Interrogation of hooded men ‘taped’

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New documents have been uncovered that confirm interrogations of detainees who became known as the ‘hooded men’ were taped, according to the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) in Derry.

Lurgan man Gerry McKerr is on one of the ‘hooded men’ and the case against the British government is being coordinated by another Lurgan man Jim McIlmurray.

The human rights organisation said it has now informed the Irish Attorney General Maire Whelan of this “new evidence” so she can determine if it can be used in the resumed Irish case against Britain for the alleged torturing of the detainees.

Paul O’Connor of the PFC said it was not known if these tapes were available but the Irish Government could now act to see if they could be obtained to bolster its case against the British government.

He explained that information about the tapes was uncovered by the PFC during researches at the British national archives in Kew in London. His colleague Sara Duddy wrote to Ms Whelan last week stating the documents categorically confirmed “that the interrogation sessions of the men in Ballykelly, Co Derry were ‘monitored and taped’, and that the British army retained over 400 hours of these taped interrogations in Ashford, Kent, ie at the Joint School of Intelligence where officers were trained in interrogation methods”.

Ms Duddy in her letter to Ms Whelan said the PFC did not know if the Irish Government was aware of the tapes when it took its original cases against the British government.

“However we believe the tapes, if still in existence, may provide probative evidence of the torture imposed on the 14 men. The tapes and/or transcripts may also help identify the individual RUC officers involved in carrying out the torture in any future criminal investigation,” she said.

The case of the hooded men refers to 14 men from a nationalist background who were arrested during and after the introduction of internment without trial in August 1971.

They were allegedly subjected to the so-called five techniques: wall-standing, hooding, subjection to white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and drink.

It was further alleged that the 14 men were made to believe they were being thrown from helicopters from hundreds of feet in the air when in fact they were thrown to the ground from a relatively short distance.

In 1976 the European Commission on Human Rights upheld an Irish government complaint that the men were tortured. On appeal by the British government the European Court of Human Rights reduced the judgment to one of “inhumane and degrading” treatment of the men.

Following new information the Irish Government is now seeking to reopen the torture case.

Recently renowned lawyer Amal Clooney joined the team representing the men at the European Court of Human Rights.

The international human rights lawyer is the wife of actor George Clooney.