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Access to secret files holding up appeal in murder case; COURTS.


THE Ministry of Defence is to review the classification on secret documents relating to man who claims he was subjected to waterboarding.

The reassessment means at least a temporary denial of access for Liam Holden, who claims water torture was used to extract a confession for the murder of a British soldier.

Lawyers for Mr Holden, who is seeking to overturn his conviction, were told earlier this week that two documents from a confidential annex were to be handed over within 24 hours.

However, they informed the Court of Appeal yesterday that nothing has been provided.

The revelation came as judges were due to hear an application for full disclosure of the secret dossier.

But due to the uncertainty over the documents' status, Barry MacDonald QC said it would be premature to press ahead with the hearing.

His client, from Ballymurphy, West Belfast, was to be executed after being found guilty of killing Paratrooper Private Frank Bell in September 1972.

Following Holden's conviction in April 1973 he was sentenced to death, only for the punishment to be commuted to life imprisonment soon after.

He served 17 years in jail before applying to an independent body set up to examine alleged miscarriages of justice.

Earlier this year the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred his conviction back to the Court of Appeal on the basis that it may be unsafe.

The move followed an examination of evidence and the reliability of confessions in the case.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 23, 2010
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