30/05/2003

Barrett denies Finucane murder charge

A leading loyalist has pleaded not guilty in court today after he was charged with the murder of Catholic solicitor Pat Finucane 14 years ago.

Ken Barrett, 40, appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court faced with a number of charges including the shooting of Mr Finucane in front of his wife and children at their Belfast home.

A statement read out in court on behalf of Barrett claimed he had been made a "scapegoat" for the murder and that he was "the subject of state victimisation".

Among the other charges laid before him are two counts of attempted murder from 1991 and a number of firearms charges. He is further charged with membership of the Ulster Defence Association and Ulster Freedom Fighters, on or before 29 May 2003.

Mr Barrett was arrested in England on Wednesday and flown back to Northern Ireland for questioning.

The shooting of Mr Finucane is one of the leading inquiries conducted by the Stevens Inquiry team, lead by Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens. Sir John's team is investigating collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries.

It is believed that collusion between the UDA and the British Army led to the murder of Mr Finucane.

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