the punishment fit the crime? This was the question
pondered on all news bulletins following publication
of the IMC report.
the Commons, the Unionists seemed underwhelmed by
the notion of docking the pocket-money of paramilitary-related
parties. On the other hand, the main parties in the
South appeared content that the sanction was just
about right. I wonder what Jean McBride thought.
Paul Murphy was outlining the IMC's recommendations
at Westminster, she was at the High Court in Belfast
at the start of her third legal bid to force the Ministry
of Defence to get rid of Scots Guards James Fisher
and Mark Wright , the pair convicted of murdering
her son Peter, 18, in the New Lodge in 1992. They
had served only three years before being released
and re-instated in their regiment.
McBride wasn't in court to complain about their release.
Her point was that the retention of the two men sent
a message that the murder of her son was a minor matter.
Conviction for possession of marijuana leads to automatic
ejection from the army. Murdering a teenager from
the New Lodge seems seen as less serious.
Court of Appeal ruled last June that the army should
have sacked the two soldiers. But the ruling stopped
short of ordering their discharge. Instead, it declared
that the Army's reasons for retaining them didn't
constitute "exceptional circumstances"---the
only basis under Queen's Regulations on which they
could be kept on.
Ministry of Defence responded in September that it
would not "revisit the question of the employment
of the Guardsmen," thereby telling the judges
to get knotted. Hence Mrs. McBride's return to court.
alongside Murphy as he assured MPs that the IMC's
punishment fitted the paramilitaries' crimes was Minister
John Spellar. Did his thoughts stray across, one wonders,
to where Jean McBride was listening to lawyers' argument?
Or his memory waft back to November 2000, when he
had been a member of the board which decided that
Fisher and Wright were suitable cases to be put back
in uniform and reissued with guns?
board's decision had been welcomed by the men's commanding
officer, Lt. Col. Tim Spicer. He'd given evidence
that shooting the unarmed McBride in the back as he
ran away had been "the correct course of action."
If he'd had his way on the night, he explained, he'd
have handed the murder weapons back to the men and
told them to carry on.
is now the chief executive officer of Sandline International,
one of the leading mercenary outfits tendering for
business in Iraq, where market conditions are set
for improvement as Spain and other countries pull
regular troops out. From July 1st, the contracts will
be in the gift of John Negroponte: his appointment
as US Ambassador to Iraq was confirmed on the same
day as the McBride court case and the IMC announcement.
New York Times has detailed Negroponte's role in "carrying
out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration
to crush the Sandinista government in Nicaragua"
during his time as Ambassador to Honduras from 1981
to 1985. He worked closely with Col. Oliver North
in running guns to the terrorist Contras. The Los
Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun have helped expose
his cover up of murder, kidnapping and torture.
will be well-known to Dick Kerr, a star in CIA operations
going back to the 1962-'63 Cuban missile crisis. By
1989, Kerr had become number two at the agency. Upon
retirement in 1992 he was honoured by Bush senior
for leading the CIA operation during the first US-Iraq
war. He's leader of the team currently reviewing the
CIA's performance in relation to Iraq's WMD.
is also a member of the IMC which on Tuesday laid
down the punishments to be imposed on parties which
associate with people who use guns.
complicated business, crime and punishment.
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