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Exposed UVF pushed for Troubles amnesty to be extended by seven years to cover loyalist feud killings

Had their wish been granted it would have taken in victims from UVF/UDA feud in 2000 and the tit-for-tat murder campaign with the LVF in 2005

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The scene of the shooting of Bobby Moffett

The scene of the shooting of Bobby Moffett

The scene of the shooting of Bobby Moffett

UVF chiefs demanded the Troubles amnesty be extended to 2005.

Government proposals to exempt terrorist and British military killers from prosecution sparked fury last week, with all Troubles crimes committed before 1998 declared no-go areas.

If passed, it will let hundreds of paramilitary mobsters and rogue soldiers off the hook.

But the Sunday World can reveal the largest loyalist terror group demanded the amnesty be extended by a further seven years to take in a raft of killings carried out in the years following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

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Bobby Moffett

Bobby Moffett

Bobby Moffett

 

Had their wish been granted it would have taken in victims from UVF/UDA feud in 2000 and the tit-for-tat murder campaign with the LVF in 2005.

Government officials, fearful of an even bigger backlash, turned them down.

The revelation comes as victims' families prepare to take their fight to the seat of power.

Campaigner Raymond McCord, pictured right, whose son was battered to death by the UVF in 1997, and Billy McManus, who lost his father in the Sean Graham bookies massacre in 1992, will hand-deliver a letter at No10 Downing Street demanding the government abandons the controversial legislation.

As previously reported in this newspaper, UVF chief John 'Bunter' Graham used demands for a guarantee of no prosecution as a bargaining chip in talks aimed at standing his organisation down.

He wanted assurances that veteran members would not be pursued for historic crimes in return for transitioning the UVF away from crime.

Victims groups, who were not briefed about the government's intentions, have been left furious after it was revealed loyalist and republican paramilitary groups were briefed in advance of the government statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

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It is understood their views were sought on the proposals during a series of meetings and briefings. Unsurprisingly all were in favour of an amnesty, although republicans did not support the shutting down of inquests into conflict-related killings.

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Jackie Coulter

Jackie Coulter

Jackie Coulter

 

The UVF demanded an even more generous get-out-of-jail-free period.

Bunter Graham remains concerned about possible prosecutions over the murder of Bobby Moffett in May 2010.

Moffett was shot in the head at point-blank range in broad daylight on a busy Shankill Road as he made his way to a meeting with the UVF leadership.

The hit was sanctioned at the highest level of the organisation, putting Graham and other senior figures such as trusted sidekick 'Harmless' Harry Stockman in the firing line.

Graham has, on numerous occasions sought assurances that neither he or other senior figures will face prosecution for the Moffett killing.

It's unclear if any undertakings were given but no one has been charged and security sources have indicated that while the file remains open it is 'highly unlikely' charges will be brought.

The UVF has carried out more than 30 murders since its declared ceasefire in 1994 - all but one of which remain unsolved.

But Bunter was looking for guarantees in relation to loyalist feud murders such as the killings of UDA men Jackie Coulter and Bobby Mahood in 2000.

The loyalist bloodletting left seven UVF/UDA people dead.

He also wanted absolution for the murder of Frankie Curry - the notorious killer was a member of sister organisation the Red Hand Commando.

He was shot in the head in 1999 as he walked across waste ground on the Shankill after visiting his mum - another killing sanctioned at the highest level.

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Bobby Mahood

Bobby Mahood

Bobby Mahood

Such was the level of UVF violence the government said it no longer recognised its ceasefire. In 2005 the organisation executed Jameson Lockhart, Stephen Paul and Michael Green as part of a feud with the LVF.

The same year gunmen from UVF B Company kicked in the door of a house at Dhu Varren Park in the north of the city, shooting 20-year-old Craig McCausland dead at the top of the stairs.

Victims groups are united in their outrage over the proposals which are being seen as cynically brazen attempt to protect former soldiers from prosecution.

The Sunday World can reveal plans are already been drawn up to challenge the proposed legislation in the courts.

It is understood barristers have already been brief and papers are being prepared for the High Court.

The move centres on the legality of the plans. The Public Prosecution Service has more than 30 files relating to conflict-related crime with a view to prosecution, and there are dozens of civil actions against the PSNI already in train.

Funding has also been set aside for legacy inquests, all of which the government intends to halt.

"It may be the state's intention to give these people an amnesty, but I won't be giving them one," said Raymond McCord, who has pursued his son's killers for almost 25 years.

"It seems now murder is not a crime unless Boris Johnson says so. He's not only trying to change the law he's changing the justice system."

Mr McCord also called on Northern Ireland politicians to step up to the mark.

"They are partly to blame for this because of their failure to agree even on the definition of a victim, it's now time for to work with victims and for victims' needs."

He said any victim's family or organisation that wishes to have their name added to the petition can contact him via email at raymondmccord@btinternet.com.

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