Northern Ireland

Loyalist internees case 'boosted by Kenyan ruling'

An court ruling in favour of Kenyans tortured over 50 years ago clears the way for a case by loyalists interned in the 1970s, it has been claimed.

Lawyer Kevin Winters said the action brought by 19 men seeking damages from the government has been strengthened by the verdict in the Mau Mau abuse case.

The High Court in London ruled that the case brought by three elderly Kenyans can advance to a full trial.

Claims that too much time had passed for a fair trial were rejected.

The trio suffered what their lawyers describe as "unspeakable acts of brutality" during the Mau Mau revolt against British rule in Kenya.

'Political decision'

Mr Winters hailed the verdict in London, which comes ahead of a revew hearing in Belfast next week when the issue of time limitations in the internment case is due to be dealt with.

He said: "The ruling has huge significance for 19 ex-loyalist prisoners who are suing the Secretary of State, the Ministry of Defence, police and the Northern Ireland office over their detention in Long Kesh prison for the period 1972-75."

The action centres on an allegation that a political decision was taken to jail the Protestant men without trial in an attempt to counter-balance a perception that only Catholics were being interned.

"The Mau Mau case and the ruling today in our view clears the way for the test case for the ex-loyalist detainees who claim they were unlawfully deprived of their liberty to facilitate a wider political agenda," Mr Winters added.

"The plaintiffs will claim that they were used to counter international concern at the time that internment was directed solely against nationalists.

"The courts in this jurisdiction have already ruled in a number of legacy and abuse cases that in appropriate circumstances they will exercise discretion and extend the limitation period to allow cases to proceed out of time

"Today's ruling bolsters significantly these cases."

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