Date: Mon, 25 Dec 1995 04:01:54 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <>
From: Eugene Mcelroy <>
Subject: South Africa to investigate Death Squad-UK Links
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South Africa to expose how Britain armed loyalists

By Laura Friel, An Phoblacht/Republican News, news and views of Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican party, 21 December 1995

THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT has agreed to investigate British collusion with loyalist death squads. The decision to support an investigation was confirmed to Sinn Fein by the South African Minister for Justice, Dullah Omar, and the Deputy Minister for Defence, Ronnie Kasrils, days before the party made its submission to the International Body on weapons decommissioning.

The announced inquiry will focus on covert arms shipments from Apartheid South Africa to loyalists in the Six Counties in the late 1980s.

Welcoming the development, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams described it as a vital breakthrough in the long search for truth and justice. The decision follows a period of intense engagement with the new South African government by Sinn Fein and the relatives of those killed by loyalists using South African weapons. The ministers also confirmed that a report submitted by Sinn Fein will be handed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for investigation.

An investigation will undoubtedly reveal more details of the role of British Military Intelligence in the procurement of weapons for loyalist death squads in the Six Counties. It will also further expose the hypocrisy of the British government's current stance on arms decommissioning.

In 1988, 200 AK47 assault rifles, 80 pistols, grenades and RPG7 rocket-launchers were smuggled from South Africa. British agents, including Brian Nelson, are known to have played key roles in the procurement. The South African shipment represented a major boost to the loyalist arsenal and resulted in a massive increase in sectarian attacks. In the six years prior to the importation of South African weapons, loyalist death squads killed 71 people. In the six years after, they killed 229 people and injured many hundreds more.


The investigation will be carried out by the Cameron Commission which was initially appointed by the South African government to investigate covert shipments of weapons to the Middle East, but a sub-clause in the commission's remit allows further investigation into any similar illegal or undercover deals involving Armscor, the procurement arm of the former Apartheid regime's military establishment. In April 1989, three loyalists, including prominent members of Ulster Resistance, were arrested in Paris along with South African agents representing Armscor in an attempt to trade arms for details of a Shorts missile being developed in Belfast.

Describing the South African decision to hold an investigation as the result of the efforts of many people to sweep away the secrecy and establish the truth about events in the Six Counties in the mid 1980s, Gerry Adams said the breakthrough had the potential of placing the spotlight on one of the most controversial series of events to have occurred in 25 years of conflict.

Earlier this year, at the invitation of Sinn Fein, two prominent lawyers from Johannesburg visited the Six Counties and compiled a report on arms shipments from South Africa to loyalists. During his visit to South Africa in June 1995, Gerry Adams raised the issue with Judge Cameron.

Commenting on the investigation, Martin Finucane from the Derry-based human-rights organisation, the Pat Finucane Centre, said he hoped it would expose the real role of the British state in the conflict. British agent Brian Nelson has already admitted involvement in the loyalist killing of human-rights lawyer Pat Finucane, whose death continues to be the focus of international concern.

The Nelson affair highlights once again that Britain has no right to claim the high moral ground in this conflict, says Martin Finucane. The British government has blood on its hands too.