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Ballymurphy Massacre Inquest Witness tells Ballymurphy inquest how British troops killed his brother

AN INQUEST into the killing of 10 people at the hands of British soldiers in Belfast nearly 50 years ago will resume next week after hearing evidence from both military and civilian witnesses.

The court has heard harrowing accounts over the course of the week, including from Robert Russell, who said he saw his elder brother being shot by the British army during the Ballymurphy Massacre of August 1971.

British soldiers shot dead 10 unarmed civilians during a three-day killing spree after the introduction of internment without trial, which was believed to unfairly target Belfast’s Catholic minority.

A subsequent cover-up ensued with the victims smeared as supporters of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which has now been discredited with acknowledgement that those killed were innocent.

Mr Russell, who was about 12 or 13 at the time, recalled looking out of his bedroom window and watching a soldier walk over to a body that was lying flat on the ground, firing a round of bullets into it. He said he watched the body jerk.

Recognising his 19-year-old brother Gerard, who was leaving the field where he was taking cover towards Springfield Road, he explained that he saw a soldier shoot him at least three times.

“I seen his body jerking, as soon as I saw Gerard getting shot I recognised him from his coat,” he told the hearing.

Also giving evidence was Francis Notarantonio, who was 14 at the time. He told the court that he still had nightmares about what he saw on the day, including the shooting of Joan Connolly.

Mr Notarantonio explained that his father and brother had been arrested and interned earlier in the day and he had been part of a group that gathered outside the Henry Taggart army base trying to find out details of who was being held.

He was with two friends including Noel Phillips when suddenly everyone scattered after hearing about some trouble in Springfield Park. 

“Noel was running alongside me, then he got shot I saw his arms go up in the air and heard him scream out. I ran on and took cover behind a tree stump,” he said.

Mr Notarantonio said the shooting came from the Henry Taggart army base.

When asked why he was giving evidence he said: “People need answers, I am here to help.”

The court resumes on Tuesday.


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