HARTE COYLE COLLINS, SOLICITORS & ADVOCATESLIAM HOLDEN CIVIL TRIAL ON WATERBOARDING ALLEGATIONS TO BE
HEARD BY BELFAST HIGH COURT TUESDAY 11th JANUARY 2022
7TH JANUARY 2022
A civil case for compensation in respect of allegations of waterboarding by members of the
Parachute Regiment in Belfast in 1972 is due to commence at Belfast High Court next
Tuesday 11th January 2022. The trial is expected to last up to 9 days.
Less than 4 weeks after the UK Supreme Court found in the Hooded Men case that “it is
likely that the deplorable treatment to which the Hooded men were subjected at the hands of
the security forces would be characterized today, applying the standards of 2021, as torture”,
a court in Belfast will hear evidence of further alleged torture incidents against the army in
the civil trial of Liam Holden.
Mr Holden, now 67, received compensation from the Department of Justice under the
miscarriage of justice scheme in 2017. That compensation award however did not include a
payout for the alleged waterboarding and public misfeasance allegations against the army and
police. Separate proceedings had been issued by Mr Holden against both the MOD and the
PSNI in respect of those aspects of the case in 2014.
Liam Holden will allege before the court that he was arrested on the 16th of October 1972 and
waterboarded up to 3 or 4 times by members of the Parachute Regiment at Black
Mountain Barracks, Belfast. He was 18 at the time of his arrest. He alleges that he was
physically assaulted by members of the Parachute Regiment while in military custody,
subjected to waterboarding, hooded, and then driven to the Glencairn area of Belfast where
he alleges the army threatened to shoot him at gunpoint if he did not confess to the murder of
a soldier some 4 weeks earlier.
Private Frank Bell also aged 18, of the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment was wounded
by a single sniper shot on the 17th of September 1972 in Ballymurphy. He died 3 days later in
the Royal Victoria Hospital. He was the first member of the Parachute Regiment killed in
The murder of Private Frank Bell was investigated internally by the army’s Royal Military
Police in 1972, a practice which has recently been criticized by the courts in Northern
Liam Holden will allege that the misconduct by the army coerced a confession. He was tried
before a jury at Belfast City Commission from 15th to 19th April 1973. There was no other
evidence against him. He challenged the confession at trial. He gave evidence twice both at
the voir dire in relation to the admissibility of the confession statement and again before the
jury. He was convicted by the jury on the 19th of April 1973 and was sentenced
to death. The death penalty was commuted to a life sentence on the 15th of May 1973.
Mr Holden spent 17 years in custody and was subject to life licence restrictions for 23 years
until the capital murder conviction was quashed by the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal on
the 21st of June 2012.