UN expert on independence of judiciary concerned about killing of key witness in Northern Ireland murder inquiry.

17 December 2001

Murderers of William Stobie May Be Connected with Patrick Finucane's Murder. According to Dato' PM Cumaraswamy

The Special Rapporteur On the independence of judges and lawyers of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Dato' Param Curnaraswarny, expressed his concern over the murder of William Stobie, a key witness to the 1989 murder of lawyer Patrick Finucane. Since 1991 Mr. Stobie was charged twice before the Court in Belfast for offences related to Patrick Finucane's murder. On both occasions he was found not guilty as the Department of Public Prosecutions did not proceed with the prosecutions for want Of evidence.

William Stobie had gone on record to say that at the time of the murder of Patrick Finucane he was a police Informer, the Special Rapporteur noted. On the day of that murder he had informed the Special Branch of the then Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) no less than twice that a murder was to be committed. He was also reported to have supported the call for an independent inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane indicating that he would be willing to co-operate with such an inquiry,

"It now appears that those responsible for the murder of William Stobie may have connections with the Patrick Finucane's murder and the motive for the present murder may be to prevent him from assisting any eventual independent inquiry", said the UN expert.

The Special Rapporteur called upon the Government of the United Kingdom to leave no stones unturned to investigate into this latest murder and apprehend the perpetrators, ascertain the motive and bring them to justice. The investigations should be carried out independently of the Police Service of Northern-lreland and its special branch.

He also reiterated his calls since 1998 for a public judicial inquiry into the Patrick Finucane murder to ascertain whether State security forces including the then RUC knew that Patrick Finucane was to be murdered and if so why was action not taken to prevent that murder.