Brits Waterboarded Irish Prisoners in '70s

Evidence of torture may overturn man's 1973 conviction
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2009 10:05 AM CST
An armored vehicle of the 25th Light Royal Artillery patrols the Upper Falls area of Belfast, 1971.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The British Army used waterboarding on prisoners in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, according to lawyers for a man appealing his 1973 conviction. Liam Holden was convicted of killing a British soldier on the basis of a confession which he says was extracted by torture: Holden, who spent 17 years in jail for the crime, says he was held down, a towel draped on his face, as water was poured over his nose and mouth to simulate drowning. Authorities are now reviewing that conviction on the basis of new evidence.

Britain's Criminal Cases Review Commission has sent Holden's case to a court of appeals in Belfast because of doubts about "the admissibility and reliability" of his confession. "There is a real possibility" his conviction will be overturned, says the commission, which has statements from two other men who claim they were subjected to the same thing. Former IRA members have also told the Guardian that the British Army routinely used waterboarding both to extract confessions and as punishment.

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