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Friday 13th
posted by Morning Star in World

PROSECUTORS have betrayed victims of a loyalist death squad by dropping the case against them, Northern Ireland justice campaigner Raymond McCord said yesterday.

Mr McCord, whose son Raymond McCord junior was killed by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in November 1997, joined other victims’ relatives who spoke out against Wednesday’s decision.

He said he was sickened by the treatment of UVF commander-turned-supergrass Gary Haggarty.

Mr Haggarty accused 11 paramilitaries and two former police officers of involvement in murders in return for a reduction in his own prison term when he is sentenced at the end of the month.

He was a senior figure in a notorious north Belfast murder gang and pleaded guilty to five murders among 202 terrorist offences.

But prosecutors said there was insufficient corroborating evidence to support Mr Haggarty’s allegations and provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.

He could theoretically walk free to enter a new life with a fresh identity, having already served three years in custody on remand — the equivalent of a six-year sentence.

Mr McCord said: “It was a betrayal of justice, a betrayal of victims’ families.”

“What the government, the paramilitary people behind the scenes, the political people have done, is stabbed the victims in the back,” he added. “We don’t matter.”

Mr McCord said the state did not want the case to go to court, adding: “The fear is of having to prosecute security force people past and present.”

Prosecutors are still considering the cases of three remaining suspects named by the killer and long-time police informer, related to three murders, with decisions expected by the end of the month.

Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory said assessing his credibility was a “complex task”.