CONCESSI TRE ANNI ALL’HISTORICAL ENQUIRIES TEAM
Forti le critiche per l’intenzione espressa da Matt Baggott di concedere solo altri 3 anni all’HET per completare le indagini
L’Historical Enquiries Team venne costituito nel 2005 ed è composta da funzionari distaccati da altre forze del Regno Unito.
Alla base della sua costituzione, un investimento di 30 milioni di sterline che sarebbero dovuti servire per investigare su 3.269 casi irrisolti dei Troubles. A distanza di 5 anni, sono 1.300 i casi per cui devono ancora essere iniziate le indagini.
Matt Baggott, chief constable della PSNI, ha dichiarato che è necessario porre una linea di confine con i crimini del passato per permettere alle forze di polizia di concentrarsi sul presente e sul futuro.
Le maggiori preoccupazioni sono montate lo scorso anno con il passaggio di consegne alla PSNI delle indagini su uno dei casi irrisolti di più alto profilo che vide la comprovata collusione tra l’Ulster Volunteer Force e le forze di polizia.
La decisione di trasferire l’Operation Ballast dall’HET alla PSNI (che l’ha rinominata Stafford) è stata accolta con sfavore dai familiari delle vittime che non ritengono corretto che sia la polizia a dover progredire nelle indagini visti i precedenti di collusione con le forze paramilitari lealiste.
Timori sono stati sollevati anche dal leader lealista William “Plum” Smith, il quale ritiene che il passaggio di compentenze alla PSNI possa determinare la violazione del diritto all’amnistia di membri dei gruppi paramilitari per i crimini commessi prima dal 1998, così come sancito dal Good Friday Agreement.
A questo proposito Matt Baggott ha dichiarato: “Per quanto mi riguarda solo qual’è il mio lavoro, e sono legato a diritti statutari e umani per investigare su crimini irrisolti ed è esattamente quello che stiamo facendo”.
“Quindi non mi è stato detto e non ho sentito nulla a proposito di un’amnistia, noi continueremo ad investigare metodicamente, in modo equo e imparziale tutti gli aspetti del passato perché è quello per cui HET è stato creato a fare”.
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Baggott criticised over HET plan (BBC News Northern Ireland)
A Victims’ Commissioner has criticised the chief constable over plans to disband the Historical Enquiries Team.
Matt Baggott has said a line has to be drawn under the work of the HET within the next three years.
Victims’ Commissioner Patricia MacBride has said that is unacceptable and she is now seeking a meeting with the chief constable.
SDLP MLA Alex Attwood has also criticised the move, but the DUP’s Ian Paisley Junior has supported it.
Ms MacBride said her “biggest concern” was Mr Baggott’s statement that it was hoped to have resolved “as far as we can” the outstanding investigations.
“So does that mean after three years we are just going to stop and whatever hasn’t been done won’t be done?” she said.
“The first thing I did, when I got into my office, was to contact the chief constable’s office and request an urgent meeting.”
The specialist police team was set up in 2005 to re-examine 3,269 murders from the Troubles.
It was estimated that the team would need six years to complete the task. However, work has yet to begin on more than 1,300 cases.
Professor Monica McWilliams of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said there should be no “artificial deadline” imposed on the process of investigations “which would be unfair to the families of the victims and would reduce the standard of protection for human rights”.
SDLP MLA Alex Attwood, who was a member of the policing board when the HET was established, said he was surprised the chief constable had made the announcement without consulting the board.
“I think on an issue like dealing with the past, given the sensitivity, given the very good work that the UUP and DUP did with the SDLP and the police in bringing about the formation of the HET, I think there was a better way for this sort of announcement to be made,” he said.
Mr Attwood also voiced concern that the team’s work could be completed within three years and objected to an “arbitrary time frame” being established to deal with issues of the past.
Board member Ian Paisley Junior of the DUP, said the chief constable had an operational requirement to manage the police services and the board had an operational responsibility to “hold him to account, not to tell him what to do”.
“He is setting a target which is in line with what the policing board asked him to do which is to clear historical cases by 2013,” he said.
“So I really don’t know what all the excitement is about, because the chief constable has been told that money is not infinite, it is finite.”
Mr Baggott said there had to be a point when a line was drawn under historic investigations so police could focus resources on the present and future.
Last year, one of the team’s highest profile case files, involving allegations of collusion between a loyalist murder gang and the police in north Belfast, was expanded and moved back under the remit of the PSNI.
In an interview with the Press Association, Mr Baggott responded to criticism from victims’ relatives who were unhappy with PSNI detectives investigating cases involving alleged collusion.
He said the move was necessary to cope with the scale of the operation and that the various oversight bodies would ensure impartiality.
“I am full of praise for the Historical Enquiries Team and quite understand the concerns of victims that they want to see success, and so do I,” he said.
“But the best place to do that now is to move some of these complex investigations back into the remit of the PSNI with the right oversight.”
HET to be ‘closed in three years’ – Baggott (NewsLetter)
THE Historical Enquiries Team (HET) is set to be wound up in three years, PSNI chief constable Matt Baggott has said.
Outlining his timescale for closing down the HET, Mr Baggott also rejected loyalist claims that cold case detectives were breaking the terms of an agreed government amnesty by pursuing paramilitaries over past killings.
The HET, which is staffed by seconded officers from other UK forces, was set up in 2005 with a budget of £30 million to independently re-examine 3,269 murders from the Troubles.
Hailing the achievements of the team to date, Mr Baggott said there had to be a point when a line was drawn under historic probes so police could focus all resources on the present and future.
“My personal view is I want to set a three-year timescale within which we will have resolved as far as we can the outstanding investigations,” he said.
“We will have dealt with and helped victims to move on and we will absolutely then be in a position to stop looking back and start looking forward.
“Three years for me is an appropriate timescale. My ambition will be in the future when it comes to my turn to hand over to a new chief constable I will give them the opportunity to only look forward and not look back all the time.”
Last year one of the HET’s most high profile case files – regarding a string of murders by a notorious UVF gang in north Belfast and alleged collusion between its members and the security forces – was expanded and handed over to PSNI detectives.
Following the ramping up of the so called ‘Ballast’ inquiry (which the PSNI has now re-named Stafford) senior loyalist leader William “Plum” Smith claimed the authorities were breaching an amnesty paramilitaries had struck with the Government during the peace process that those involved in crimes pre-1998 would not be pursued.
Mr Baggott said the notion of an amnesty was “news to me”.
“As far as I am concerned my job is and I am statutory and human rights bound to investigate unresolved crimes and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” he said.
“So I’ve not been told or heard anything about an amnesty, we will continue to investigate methodically, fairly and impartially all the issues of the past because that’s what the HET was set up to do.”
Mr Baggott said he wasn’t going to tie himself absolutely to a three year timescale for closing the HET, but that was his goal.
“I think it’s important that we do that (set a time limit) because there has to be a line drawn at some stage,” he added.