British army accused of ‘waterboarding’ Irish prisoners in 1970s
LONDON — Evidence is emerging that the British army used waterboarding during interrogations on prisoners in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, according to a report Tuesday.
The technique was allegedly used during at least one interrogation of a prisoner who was found guilty in 1973 of murdering a British soldier, a conviction largely based on an unsigned confession, the Guardian said.
The jury did not believe his insistence that he made up the confession only because he had been held down by soldiers who placed a towel over his face and poured water over his nose and mouth to simulate drowning, the newspaper said.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has now referred Liam Holden’s case to the Court of Appeal in Belfast after unearthing new evidence, and because of doubts about the “admissibility and reliability” of his confession, it said.
After a preliminary hearing, the case has been adjourned until the new year.
“At trial Mr Holden gave compelling evidence that the alleged confession was obtained by the army using water torture,” his solicitor Patricia Coyle said.
“He spent 17 years in jail. He is looking forward to the court hearing his appeal,” she said.
Evidence has emerged of waterboarding by the CIA while interrogating suspects during the so-called war on terror.
Northern Ireland has been largely peaceful since the 1998 Good Friday agreement paved the way to powersharing, after three decades of bloodshed between pro-British Protestants and Catholic opponents of British rule.
At least 3,500 people were killed during the conflict fought by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Protestant paramilitary groups, known as The Troubles.