BELFAST, May 13 (RIA Novosti), Mark Hirst - A decision by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) not to conduct a full investigation into a British Army unit, the Military Reaction Force, which was implicated in the murders of unarmed civilians has been labelled a "travesty of justice" by a leading human rights group.
"The PSNI decision reinforces our long held view that the PSNI cannot under any circumstances be trusted to carry out impartial, independent investigations into so-called ‘legacy or historic' cases", Paul O'Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) told RIA Novosti.
A BBC special investigations documentary broadcast in November 2013 detailed how a unit of the British Army was established and ordered to carry out random attacks on civilians.
The film linked the Military Reaction Force (MRF) to the murders of at least ten unarmed civilians over an 18 month period in West Belfast, a community perceived to be sympathetic to the republican IRA. The film included interviews with former British Army soldiers who were members of the unit and detailed how captured IRA weapons were used to carry out the shootings with the aim of discrediting the republican paramilitary organisation.
In a short statement the PSNI confirmed detectives from the Serious Crime Branch had "studied" the film but concluded there was no specific "admission of criminality" by individual soldiers. RIA Novosti understands none of the former soldiers who appeared in the film were interviewed by detectives.
"The PSNI is institutionally incapable of investigating killings and shootings carried out by an army unit that was operating in support of the [Police] and whose activities in the early seventies were covered up by the criminal justice system at all levels including the police," O'Connor added.
O'Connor told RIA Novosti that, "the decision not to fully investigate shootings carried out by secret plain clothed British army unit, the Military Reaction Force, is a travesty of justice."
Although the MRF was disbanded in 1973 another similar force was established by the British army in the early 1980s and known as the Force Research Unit and linked to British military intelligence. It has been implicated in the murders and disappearance of dozens of people in Northern Ireland and accused of collusion with loyalist terror groups.