Released NI murder suspect is re-arrested


Prominent republican Colin Duffy, one of six suspects held over security force murders in Northern Ireland but released today after a high court challenge, has been re-arrested, his lawyer said.

The Lurgan man’s solicitor Pat Vernon said his client was taken back into custody under anti-terrorism legislation.

Only an hour earlier, a Belfast judge overturned a court order granting the police further time to question the suspects over the murder of two British soldiers and a policeman this month.

Outside Antrim police station, Mr Vernon said: “We understand he has been re-arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act again, but we don’t know any further details.”

The lawyer said his client’s continuing detention was unlawful.

The other five suspects, freed after the ruling, were driven out of Antrim police station at high speed with coats over their heads.

Colin Duffy came to prominence in the 1990s when he was acquitted of the murder of a soldier after it emerged a key witness was a loyalist paramilitary.

He was subsequently charged over the murder of two police officers, though that case collapsed.

In a statement issued today by Duffy’s family they said police were effectively disregarding the court ruling.

They said: “Colin has previously been the victim of persecution by the state and its forces which included previous periods of imprisonment which were proven to be completely unjustified.”

Four of the six people arrested by police were being held in connection with the shooting of Sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham and Patrick Azimkar, 21, from London, outside an Army barracks in Antrim on March 7.

Two other soldiers and two civilian pizza delivery men were seriously wounded in the shooting, responsibility for which was claimed by the Real IRA.

The other two were being questioned over the death two days later of Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Constable Stephen Carroll, 48, in the Co Armagh town of Craigavon.

The Continuity IRA claimed this killing.

A 17-year-old youth and a 37-year-old man have already been charged with the policeman’s murder.

After today’s developments police said they were continuing to investigate the killings.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “This remains a live and active major investigation and detectives are following a number of definite lines of inquiry.”

The suspects had been held since March 14th, and at the weekend a judge granted a police application to have their detention extended for a further seven days as they were still awaiting the results of potentially vital forensic tests at the crime scenes.

Their lawyers challenged this extension and today Northern Ireland Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr quashed the original ruling on a legal technicality.

He ruled that judge Corinne Philpott, while making her deliberations, had not taken into account whether the suspects’ original arrest had been lawful.

Sir Brian did not question the lawfulness of those arrests but said the judge who granted the extension should have examined the issue.

On that basis he upheld the defence team’s claim that the decision should be reversed.

Sinn Fein has called on the public to support the police investigations, with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness branding the killers traitors determined to undermine the peace process, despite public support for the current political arrangements.

But the party’s president Gerry Adams called on the police to charge or release the suspects and today he welcomed the court decision.

Mr Adams said: “Detaining people for periods extending beyond human rights best practice is simply not acceptable and must not happen in the future.

“I welcome the ruling of the High Court this morning. This case should never have had to arise. Our position has been made very clear both publicly and privately to the British Government and the PSNI.