Hooded Men: 14 Irish Catholics interrogated by British Army during the Troubles were NOT tortured, European court rules
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Hooded Men: 14 Irish Catholics interrogated by British Army during the Troubles were NOT tortured, European court rules

THE European Court of Human Rights has rejected a request by the Irish Government to find that the so-called 'Hooded Men' detained by Britain during the Troubles were tortured.

The ECHR said there was "no justification" to revise a 1978 ruling which found that the 14 Catholics were subjected to "inhuman and degrading treatment", but not torture.

The court added that fresh evidence had not been "demonstrated", despite Ireland's claims to the contrary.

'Hooded Men'

The Hooded Men were 14 Catholics interned indefinitely without trial in Co. Derry in 1971, who alleged they were subjected to a number of state-sanctioned torture techniques by the British Army.

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The group claimed they were deprived of sleep, food and water, were forced to listen to constant loud static noise and beaten if they fell from forced stress positions.

The methods the men were subjected to were later banned by then prime minister, Edward Heath.

The men said they were also hooded and thrown to the ground from hovering helicopters, which they were told were actually hundreds of feet in the air.

'No new evidence'

Dismissing the case today, the ECHR said that "the Government of Ireland had not demonstrated the existence of facts that were unknown to the Court at the time or which would have had a decisive influence on the original judgment.

"There was therefore no justification to revise the judgment."

In 2014, the Irish Government said it would ask the European Court to revise that judgement.

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But in Brussels today, the appeal was rejected by six ECHR votes to one, with the only dissenting opinion coming from an Irish judge.

The Irish Government had argued that new facts emerged in a RTÉ documentary aired in June 2014, facts which could have had a decisive influence on the original judgement.

It said that a psychiatrist who had given evidence at the original ruling had misled the court by saying the men did not suffer long-lasting psychological effects from the ill-treatment they suffered.

However, the men themselves alleged that the use of five 'torture' techniques had severe and lasting effects on their lives.

These included hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and water – along with beatings, death threats and being thrown out of British Army helicopters.

Ireland's Government also alleged that the British Government had tried to prevent the ECHR from accessing the full truth about the five methods, back in 1978.

Survivors

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Surviving members of the Hooded Men group had previously launched a legal bid against a PSNI decision which found there was not enough evidence to warrant an investigation into their treatment.

The PSNI looked into the case in 2014, but decided there was "no evidence" to support the allegation that the British Government authorised the use of torture in Northern Ireland.

After quashing the decision last October, the High Court in Belfast did not prescribe how the matter should be taken forward.