Some potential witnesses for SAS shooting inquest ‘yet to be identified’

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Some former soldiers who may be called to give evidence at the inquest of a man shot by the SAS have yet to be identified, a coroner has been told.

Francis Bradley, 20, was killed by soldiers in disputed circumstances near Toomebridge, Co Londonderry, in 1986.

At the time of the killing, the IRA said Mr Bradley was not a member. However, his name was later added to the organisation’s “roll of honour”.

In 2010, then attorney general John Larkin KC ordered a fresh inquest into the controversial killing.

It is finally set to begin hearing evidence in April this year.

Mr Coll cautioned that issues around obtaining legal representation for those veterans might emerge if they are traced by the MoD ahead of the start date on April 24.

“There are obviously some of the former military witnesses who are ciphered,” he told coroner Peter Irvine.

“Efforts are under way still to actually identify who those individuals are.

“So one could envisage as we move towards the 24th of April some issues in respect of the representation of those individuals, if and when they come to light and are identified, contacted and respond.”

Mr Irvine, who is also a judge, dealt with a range of preparatory issues at Wednesday’s hearing.

He said the inquest was on course to start on April 24.

It will be heard in modular format, with an opening tranche of evidence that is not considered controversial in the initial hearings. The proceedings will then be adjourned and will resume when the process around disclosing state files is further progressed.

The next preliminary hearing was fixed for March 14.

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