KRW Law Statement – Arms Importation Trial

Today the Belfast High Court fixed a hearing date for 2 collusion actions against the State in relation to the killing of 4 people: 3 at a Craigavon mobile shop on 28/3/91 and 1 in West Belfast on 1 May 1993.

 

We act on behalf of the families of the murder victims: Brian Frizzell, Katrina Rennie, Eileen Duffy (Craigavon), and Alan Lundy (West Belfast).

 

The latest listing arises from a Closed Material Procedure in the lead cases of Frizzell and Lundy with respect to a shipment of weapons brought into Northern Ireland from Beirut by loyalists in late 1987/ early 1988. It is alleged that the state assisted and facilitated loyalist terrorists in procuring and importing this shipment into the jurisdiction. The FRU agent, Brian Nelson is alleged to be involved.

 

Many of these issues have been addressed in the Police Ombudsman’s Report into the murders at Loughinisland. However, the issue of state liability has never been addressed. In the Autumn, Mr Justice Humphreys provided a judgment and gist with respect to this shipment of weapons. A further gist is expected within 14 days and the hearing, which will be conducted in both an OPEN and CLOSED court, is listed on 25 November 2024 and will run for 5 days. An OPEN and CLOSED judgment will be delivered thereafter.

 

Speaking after the Court confirmed the listing in November 2024, Setanta Marley, partner in KRW LAW said:

 

“We very much welcome this development. The CMP in the Frizzell and Lundy cases has been going on for some time and we are very pleased to see the process bear fruit. We must commend the Court for the very constructive approach it has taken in navigating these very complex and long running legal issues and today’s listing is an endorsement of its approach.

 

For many years, there has been much commentary about this weapons importation. The most recent, and the most comprehensive, has come from the Police Ombudsman in the Report into the murders at the Heights Bar, Loughinisland. However, the issue of state liability has never been determined by a Court. This is what the Court is to do in November, and we relish the opportunity to argue this very important issue in the High Court.

 

In the Loughinisland Report, the Police Ombudsman said that the (VZ58) rifles from this shipment were used in at least 70 murders and numerous other attempted murders after Loughinisland. This listing and subsequent judgment will therefore impact scores, if not hundreds, of cases – spanning the late 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s – where the weapons from this shipment were used.

 

The approach taken by the court here sets down a marker for a similar engagement in many other conflict related cases, this is particularly important given the almost complete absence of any criminal prosecutions against the main suspects implicated in dozens of killings right across the jurisdiction.

Today’s listing is an important milestone in the ever-evolving area of legacy litigation in this jurisdiction”.