Killer cops

FRFI 173 June / July 2003

The High Court has overturned the open verdict result on the inquest into the death of Harry Stanley. Harry, who was unarmed, was shot dead in September 1999 by two armed policemen.

Ordering a new inquest, Mr Justice Silber slammed the coroner Dr Stephen Chan, ruling that he prevented a fair inquest and breached human rights. He highlighted Chan’s refusal to allow the jury to consider a verdict of unlawful killing and the failure to investigate effectively whether a crime of murder or manslaughter had been committed. He also criticised Chan for disallowing evidence from witnesses and allowing the police lawyer to introduce evidence of criminal offences Harry committed in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the meantime, the police, aided and abetted by their little drummer boys in the media, have been using Harry and other tragic cop killings as an excuse to introduce new weapons of terror and repression into their arsenal.

The police are issuing units with the tazer stun-gun. From a range of up to 21 feet, this weapon fires two barbed darts at the victim. Wires attached to the darts carry an electric current of 50,000 volts (yes, fifty thousand), electrocuting the victim for five seconds. Despite police claims these weapons are ‘less than lethal force’, they have caused deaths in the US and are suspected of causing miscarriages.

The police and army have also been issued with a new baton round (plastic bullet), the L21A1, and the launcher, the L104 anti-riot gun, has been modified to accommodate the XL18E3 optical sight, in addition to the conventional battle sight. The effect will be more ‘strikes’ and more injuries.

The plastic bullet being introduced has already been condemned by the European Parliament, the United Nations Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International. Labour MP Kevin McNamara has tabled over 20 parliamentary questions on the ‘lethality and injury potential’ of these missiles. As on many things, the talking shop of Parliament just won’t talk, and he hasn’t got anywhere. However, the Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) has issued a statement, and we endorse McNamara’s remark that ‘it makes chilling reading’. The DSAC confirms that: ‘The use of the L21A1 is likely to increase the incidence of some intra-abdominal injuries’. It also admits that if this projectile hits a human head ‘head on’ it can embed itself in the skull.

The nationalist community in Ireland can testify just how deadly these ‘less than lethal’ weapons are. Scores have been killed and hundreds crippled and maimed. It is a Labour government which has introduced these horrific weapons, and ‘old’ Labour’s record in Ireland proves it won’t hesitate to use them, as capitalism goes deeper into crisis.

Jim Wills


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