Family of Liam Holden welcomes court's finding that he was tortured by British Army into murder confession

Family of Liam Holden welcomes court's finding that he was tortured by British Army into murder confession

THE FAMILY of Liam Holden has welcomed the High Court's finding that he was tortured by the British Army into confessing to the murder of a soldier.

Mr Holden passed away last year at the age of 68, a decade after his conviction for the 1972 murder of Private Frank Bell was quashed.

He had originally been sentenced to death but this was commuted to life imprisonment in 1973.

Mr Holden spent 17 years in prison before being released on licence in 1989.

Awarding Mr Holden's estate £350,000 in damages, the judge said that he was convinced Mr Holden had been tortured before making a confession.

The judge said: "It is my decision that the plaintiff was subjected to waterboarding; he was hooded; he was driven in a car flanked by soldiers to a location where he thought he would be assassinated; a gun was put to his head, and he was threatened that he would be shot dead.

"It is the view of this court that the said ill-treatment caused the plaintiff to make admissions and a confession statement."

'Our father was innocent'

Welcoming the decision, Mr Holden's family said he had suffered a 'grotesque act of torture'.

"We very much welcome the detailed decision by the Court today," read a statement issued by his children, Bronagh and Samuel, on behalf of the family.

"The Court has found that our father was waterboarded by the British Army in Belfast in 1972.

"The Court also found that he was maliciously prosecuted by the army and that the army were guilty of public misfeasance.

"The Court has today exposed the grotesque act of torture committed by the members of the Paratrooper Regiment in Belfast in 1972.

"Our father was an innocent man who went to jail for a crime he did not commit for 17 years.

"We wish he was here today with us. He died on September 15, 2022.

"We miss him but salute him — his life and campaign for justice were a triumph of humanity and tenacity over state injustice."

'I haven't got closure'

Mr Holden always maintained his innocence following his forced confession.

During the case, the court heard extracts from an interview Mr Holden gave to a doctor during a psychiatric evaluation.

In it, Mr Holden stated: "I don't care about the soldiers that tortured me. I don't care about the conviction.

"I don't care about the years in jail — because I can never get them back.

"I haven't got closure. The closure I want is the document that says, 'We know he is innocent'."

The damages awarded to Mr Holden's estate included £250,000 for special loss, £50,000 for the torture he was subjected to, £30,000 for aggravated damages, and £10,000 each for malicious prosecution and malfeasance in public office.