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Ballymurphy family in call to exhume body

The family of one of 10 people shot dead by soldiers in Ballymurphy in 1971 has applied to a coroner to have the body exhumed.

The family of one of 10 people shot dead by soldiers in Ballymurphy in 1971 has applied to a coroner to have the body exhumed.

The family of one of 10 people shot dead by British soldiers in west Belfast in 1971 want his body exhumed amid claims he was fired on a second time when in Army custody, a coroner’s court has heard.

Relatives of Joseph Murphy, a father of 12, are to officially request the move in a bid to test conflicting medical evidence on whether one or two bullets entered his body.

Mr Murphy, 41, lived for 13 days after being shot in Ballymurphy and during that time he alleged that, when he was hit by the first bullet in the upper thigh, soldiers then brought him into a nearby barracks and shot him again through the same wound. While Mr Murphy thought a plastic bullet had been fired into the open wound, his family allege a live round may have been used.

Ten people died as a result of gunfire injuries, among them a Catholic priest, sustained over three days of shooting in August 1971 – an episode relatives refer to as the Ballymurphy massacre – while another man died of a heart attack following an alleged violent confrontation with soldiers.

As with Bloody Sunday in Londonderry six months later, soldiers from the Parachute Regiment were involved.

A new inquest into the 10 deaths caused by gunfire was ordered by Attorney General John Larkin QC in 2011 and the opening preliminary hearing took place in Belfast yesterday. A formal request to examine Mr Murphy’s remains is set to be made at a subsequent hearing, with coroner Jim Kitson making the decision on whether to grant the move. Another preliminary hearing is to be held at the end of the month.

 

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