Ombudsman to ask why O'Hagan killers still free

The Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman is to launch an investigation into why the killers of Sunday World journalist Martin O'Hagan have yet to be charged, five years on from his death.

Colleagues of O'Hagan have named Loyalist paramilitaries believed to have been involved in his killing. And they fear that the Police Service of Northern Ireland has failed to prosecute them because at least some were informants for the security services.

This week O'Hagan's brothers and sisters made a formal request that Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan investigate the case — only family members of a murder victim can prompt an Ombudsman Inquiry.

In their letter to O'Loan, they said: "We are concerned that although five years have passed since our brother was shot from a passing vehicle outside his home in Tandragee Road, Lurgan, no one has been charged in connection with the murder.

"We are further concerned at media reports which state that the police know the names of Martin's killers, as well as those persons involved in a wider conspiracy to have him shot."

They also repeated claims made in the Sunday World about named men believed to have been involved in the murder. And they handed over detailed notes about the case compiled by O'Hagan's editor, Jim Campbell, who was himself shot by a Loyalist gunman in 1984.

Campbell told Press Gazette that he has now named in the pages of the Sunday World 10 men believed to have been implicated in the murder of O'Hagan. He said: "Virtually every week we write something to make them aware we are watching them, it's a rattling-the-cage exercise, in the hope that sooner or later one of them will break ranks.

"The big hope would be that one of them will break away and spill the beans about the rest of them."

Campbell said he believed that there wouldn't have been more than three people in the car from which the shots were fired which killed O'Hagan. But he said far more people would have been involved in the conspiracy —including those involved in spotting O'Hagan, driving a decoy car and driving a follow-up car.

He said he was concerned that O'Hagan's unsolved killing — the only murder by paramilitaries of a journalist in the modern Troubles — was getting little media coverage outside the pages of the Sunday World.

"Martin is the forgotten victim. He certainly hasn't got the coverage that Veronica Guerin got when she was shot by criminals in Dublin."

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