A FORMER senior RUC officer has said allegations of “torture” have unfairly damaged the reputation of the force.
Roger McCallum of the RUC George Cross Foundation was speaking in response to claims that terrorist suspects in Castlereagh Holding Centre were subjected to “waterboarding” in order to extract confessions.
The allegations were contained in a BBC Radio documentary broadcast yesterday afternoon which focused mainly on claims made against the Army.
The term waterboarding – an interrogation method that caused a drowning sensation – has been in general use in recent years due to revelations about the West’s actions against al-Qaeda.
Mr McCallum said it was unfortunate that the actions of “one or two” officers were tarnishing a good reputation.
The ex-superintendent joined the police in 1976 after graduating with a law degree.
Now a trustee of the RUC GC Foundation, Mr McCallum said: “For many years many brave men and women served the community, all the community in Northern Ireland and in the vast majority of cases, 98, 99 per cent of cases, without any problems whatsoever.”
He added: ”These allegations unfortunately will tarnish any organisation and it’s unfortunate that they are made and unfortunate that one or two folk in the past have been guilty of something, but certainly the vast majority of people who have served with pride in the RUC were guilty of nothing along those lines whatsoever.”
The documentary – entitled ‘Inside the torture chamber: water boarding allegations against the Army and RUC’ – claims the controversial interrogation technique was first used by the Army in Northern Ireland 40 years ago.
As well as waterboarding, former paramilitary prisoners have alleged being subjected to food and sleep deprivation by the Army during prolonged periods of questioning.
Known as the “five techniques,” the methods were at one time banned by the then Prime Minister Edward Heath and subjected to an investigation by the European Commission following a complaint from the Irish government.
In 1976 the commission ruled that the Government was guilty of torture through inhumane and degrading treatment.
However, the Government appealed the commission’s decision and in 1978 the European Court ruled that while the five techniques did amount to inhumane and degrading treatment, they did not constitute torture.
One of those featured in the documentary is the last man to be sentenced to death in the UK.
Liam Holden was interrogated by members of the Parachute Regiment in September 1972 when he was 19 years old.
When he stood trial for the murder of a soldier he gave a detailed account of his experiences but failed to convince a judge and jury his confession was extracted through torture.
Describing his treatment, Mr Holden said: “They got the bucket of water and they just slowly but surely poured the bucket of water right round the facial area, over my nose and mouth.”
After 17 years in prison his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal earlier this year.
Mr Holden spent four weeks in the condemned man’s cell at Crumlin Road jail in Belfast before his sentence was commuted to one of life imprisonment.
See Morning View, page 14