ATTESA PER LA PUBBLICAZIONE DEGLI ESITI DELL’INCHIESTA SULL’OMICIDIO DI BILLY WRIGHT
L’esponente di primo piano dell’Ulster Volunteer Force fu freddato nel 1997 da tre prigionieri dell’INLA mentre era detenuto nel Maze
I familiari di Billy Wright, assassinato tra le mura del Maze nel 1997, sperano di ottenere presto risposte alla molteplici domande sull’omicidio che sarebbe frutto di una collusione tra il personale carcerario e prigionieri repubblicani appartenenti all’INLA (Irish National Liberation Army).
L’indagine, costata al governo 30 milioni di sterline, dovrà far luce soprattutto su 3 questioni cardine:
- Come i detenuti repubblicani sono riusciti a fare entrare le armi all’interno del carcere di massima sicurezza?
- Perchè le telecamere a circuito chiuso puntate sul cortile della prigione non erano in funzione al momento dell’omicidio?
- Perchè la guardia che doveva prestare servizio in torretta non si trovava a suo posto lasciando il punto di sorveglianza sguarnito?
Billy Wright il giorno della sua morte doveva ricevere una visita dalla sua fidanzata e per questo era stato caricato a bordo di un furgone per essere accompagnato al centro visitatori. Fu in quel frangente che tre prigionieri dell’INLA, Crip McWilliams, John Glennon e John Kennaway sono riuscita a balzare sul tetto di un’ala del carcere passando attraverso un buco nella recinzione e scendere nel cortile dove stava transitando il veicolo con a bordo Wright.
Fu McWilliams ad aprire il portellone del mezzo e al grido di “Volontari dell’INLA armati” aprirono il fuoco sul leader lealista. Compiuto il loro ‘dovere’ i tre detenuti repubblicani sono tornati nelle loro celle consegnando le armi ad un sacerdote.
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- Billy Wright killer: Maze was ‘a joke’ (guardian.co.uk)
- Billy Wright Report Due Out Tomorrow (politics.ie)
Wright inquiry to answer collusion question (U TV)
The family of notorious loyalist Billy Wright are expecting answers about how republican prisoners were able to carry out his murder in Northern Ireland’s highest security prison, more than a decade ago.
The £30m inquiry into the killing, carried out by three INLA gunmen in 1997, is due to publish the findings of its almost five-year investigation on Tuesday.
The inquiry will rule on whether the authorities colluded in Wright’s death – a claim which has been made by relatives, who have insisted he was murdered because of the threat he posed to the peace process.
It will also examine key questions, including how INLA members were able to smuggle guns into the high-security facility, why cameras overlooking the yard where Wright was shot were not working, and why a guard stood down from the watchtower and left it unmanned.
Billy Wright – who claimed to be a born-again Christian, yet is believed to have masterminded a string of loyalist killings and funded his terror campaign through drug-dealing – was serving time for threatening to kill a woman when his murder was carried out.
On the day he died, he was due to receive a visit from his girlfriend and was escorted to a prison van to be taken to the visitors’ centre.
It was then that three gunmen – Crip McWilliams, John Glennon and John Kennaway – climbed through a hole which had been cut in the fence, went over the roof of A wing and into the yard where the van was parked.
McWilliams opened the door of the van and shouted: “Armed INLA volunteers,” before he and Glennon fired into the van – killing Billy Wright.
The three prisoners then returned to their cells, later handing over their guns to a priest before surrendering to the authorities.
Wright was born in Wolverhampton in 1960, but moved to Northern Ireland when his parents separated. He was put into care and grew up in a mainly nationalist area of south Armagh, where he had Catholic friends and played Gaelic football.
But he later joined the youth wing of the UVF, rising to prominence in the paramilitary organisation before forming his own loyalist terror group – the LVF.
Despite being linked to many killings, Wright was only charged with murder once – the killing of an innocent Catholic picked at random, 20-year-old Lurgan man Peadar Fagan. The case hinged on the word of a UVF supergrass and collapsed.
Branded ‘King Rat’ by the tabloids, Billy Wright became a divisive figure within loyalism. A one-time supporter of ceasefires, he became an ardent opponent of the peace process and called for a harder line from loyalists following the 1996 IRA bombing of Canary Wharf.
In the year before Wright’s death, the UVF issued a statement saying it was standing down his Mid-Ulster unit after it emerged it had been responsible for the killing of a Catholic taxi driver as a so-called ‘birthday present’ for Wright.
The grouping later gave Wright an ultimatum to get out of Northern Ireland or face death.
But it was republicans rather than loyalists who finally caught up with Wright, not on the streets but behind the walls of one of Northern Ireland’s high security jails.