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Two British Marines Face Charges in Disputed Shooting

January 31, 1992

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Two British marines will be charged in the death of 20-year-old Irish nationalist who was shot in the back more than a year ago, police said Friday.

A one-sentence statement from the Royal Ulster Constabulary said the director of public prosecutions would also bring charges against the two marines for wounding the dead man’s brother.

The statement did not identify the suspects, specify the precise charges or when they would be filed, nor did it say whether the marines were in custody.

The case is important because it revived charges that police and soldiers in Northern Ireland have a deliberate ″shoot to kill″ policy - an allegation which has always been rejected by the government.

Fergal Caraher, 20, was shot in the back as he drove away from a marine checkpoint in the border village of Cullyhanna on Dec. 30, 1990. He was a member of Sinn Fein, the legal political party which supports the Irish Republican Army. His brother Miceal, 24, was seriously wounded.

The marines and police had initially claimed that the brothers had careened through a checkpoint, striking two soldiers and carrying one for some distance on the hood.

Miceal Caraher and several residents of the village claimed the brothers had driven away normally after being questioned by soldiers, who opened fire without provocation.

There have been several instances in which armed IRA members have been killed in ambushes, as well as occasions when unarmed suspects or innocent civilians have been killed.

″It’s quite an emotional situation,″ said Peter John Caraher, the victim’s father.

″We’re pleased that we’ve gotten this far, and wary and cautious because of the way it has been handled since the murder of our son,″ Caraher said in a telephone interview from his Cullyhanna home.

In July, the family had cooperated in an unofficial public hearing on the shootings organized by the Irish National Congress. Residents gave testimony to a panel that included jurists from the United States, France and Britain. Police and military officials did not participate in the two-day hearing.

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