The last man to be sentenced to death in Northern Ireland has had his conviction for murder quashed by the Court of Appeal in Belfast. Liam Holden (58) had been sentenced to hang for the killing of a British soldier in 1972.
His sentence had been commuted to life in prison by then Northern Ireland secretary William Whitelaw. He served 17 years behind bars before being released on licence in 1989.
Private Frank Bell (18) was shot dead on Springfield Avenue in West Belfast on September 17th, 1972. Mr Holden was found guilty on the basis of a confession that he maintained was made under duress after being subjected to waterboarding. He claimed he was pinned to the floor, a thick towel was held over his face and the soldiers poured water on it.
The widowed father-of-two said he was also taken to another part of Belfast and a gun was put to his head, at which point he agreed to sign the confession. Mr Holden said other people went through similar ordeals and he hoped the publicity would help bring those matters into the public domain. – (PA)