A STRABANE man whose brother was shot dead by the British Army believes the British Government “must take responsibility,” following its new impunity proposals.
Sammy McDevitt was speaking following an recommendation from a Westminster defence committee that former British soldiers and members of the RUC should be protected from Troubles prosecutions by a statute of limitations.
28-year-old Eamon McDevitt, who was deaf and mute, was fatally wounded when he was shot by a British soldier during a riot at Fountain Street on August 18, 1971.
Speaking immediately after the killing Colonel Roger Ephraums told television cameras that Eamon had, “clearly been carrying a gun”.
“He raised a weapon, brandished it and came up on aim. One of my marines fired a shot and killed him.”
However in 2014, documents uncovered by the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) proved that army officials knew Eamon was innocent.
Eamon’s brother Sammy, who has been campaigning for an apology from the British Government for almost 50 years, has always defended his brothers innocence.
“I am very disappointed with this impunity proposal, although I am not surprised” said Sammy.
Recalling the day Eamon died, Sammy believes Eamon was deliberately, “taken out” by the British Army.
“Eamon was 6ft 1,” said Sammy. “On the day he was killed he was wearing a bright red jumper. It is a policy of the British Army to take out the tallest, most prominent target and then everyone else will follow.
“He never bothered anyone, he thought it was all a game. He had no fear of the police or the army because he didn’t realise how serious things were. There was never any formal investigation into Eamon’s killing by the RUC and there was never any evidence to prove Eamon was carrying a weapon or had used a weapon.
“All we want is a public apology, just a few words from the British Government, and for them to take responsibility for what they did in this country. I am not expecting a prosecution, given the passage of time, but I want the truth and Eamon deserves that.
“There was ten of us in our family, we were all very close but things we were never the same after Eamon died. We all know in our heart of hearts Eamon was innocent,” Sammy McDevitt added.
The PFC is dealing with Eamon’s case and is vehemently opposed to Westminster’s recent proposals.
A PFC spokesperson said, “This ‘Statue of Limitations,’ while coupled with a ‘truth recovery mechanism,’ would enforce the law differentially between civilians and uniformed members of the military and police.”
In respect of Eamon’s case the PFC spokesperson added “The Historical Enquiries Team, (HET) commented on the illegal agreement between the RUC and Royal Military Police who took statements in this and other cases.
“The policy negated any possibility of independence and it is questionable whether the chief constable had legal authority to devolve his responsibilities in this manner.”