Northern Ireland

Decision not to prosecute soldier over killing to be reviewed

Aidan McAnespie was shot as he walked through a checkpoint
Image caption Aidan McAnespie was shot as he walked through a checkpoint

A decision not to prosecute a soldier who shot dead a Catholic man at a border checkpoint in County Tyrone nearly 30 years ago is to be reviewed.

Aidan McAnespie, 23, was shot dead as he walked through the checkpoint at Aughnacloy on 21 February 1988.

Manslaughter charges brought against a soldier were dropped in 1990.

He was fined for negligent discharge of his weapon and later medically discharged from the Army.

Image caption Manslaughter charges brought against the soldier were dropped in 1990

The decision to review the case was taken after it was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory by Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin who had been considering a request from the McAnespie family for a new inquest.

Mr McAnespie's brother, Sean, said the family welcomed the latest decision.

New evidence

"We knew the original decision was wrong," he said.

He said the family had received new evidence.

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Media captionSean McAnespie said his brother had been subjected to a campaign of harassment

"The family would like to make a point to the British Army that no-one is above the law," he said.

In 2009, the British government expressed "deep regret" at Mr McAnespie's death.

He was on his way to a GAA match when the shooting happened.

Before his death, Mr McAnespie had claimed he had been constantly harassed by security force members.

Image caption A memorial to Mr McAnespie was erected at the scene of where the shooting happened

Sean McAnespie said his brother was working in Monaghan and had to go through the checkpoint in Aughnacloy twice a day.

"It was a campaign of harassment," he added.

He said the family were hopeful the soldier will face prosecution.

"We are more hopeful now than we were say 10 or 20 years ago. We think times have changed."

Family solicitor Darragh Mackin said he was confident that the family will get the "correct decision, the decision that they have been campaigning for for many years".

The soldier in question always claimed his hands were wet, causing him to accidentally fire his machine-gun when he was moving inside a sanger.

In 2008, a report by Historic Enquiries Team said the soldier's description of events was the "least likely version" of what happened.

It said the fatal shot had been fired from a distance of 283 metres.

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