Belfast – Two journalists were arrested on Friday over suspected theft of documents from Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman used in a documentary on investigation into the 1994 murder of six soccer fans.
The 2017 documentary, “No Stone Unturned’’, named a Protestant para-military gunman believed to have shot six fans in one of the most notorious episodes of Northern Ireland’s ‘troubles’.
It also detailed alleged police collusion, which a 2016 report by the Northern Ireland police ombudsman said was a significant feature in the killings.
No one has ever been prosecuted for the killings.
Fine Point Films, which produced the documentary, said in a statement that police were speaking to two of its team, but said it could not make any further comment until the process was concluded.
“The arrests, made in a joint operation between police from Northern Ireland the northern British region of Durham, relate to the suspected theft of materials held by the office of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland,’’ police said.
“The inquiry centres on the theft of sensitive material, which was used in a documentary film re-examining the 1994 murders,” the statement said, adding that the theft “potentially puts lives at risk.”
The producer of the documentary, Alex Gibney, said on Twitter that the pair had been arrested “for doing good, hard-hitting journalism.”
“The film exposed the failure of police to properly investigate Loughinisland Massacre and bring suspected killers to account,” Gibney said.
“Police reaction? Re-open murder investigation? No. Arrest the truth tellers.”
On June 18, 1994, Protestant para-military gunmen entered the Heights Bar in the village of Loughinisland and opened fire indiscriminately on customers watching Ireland play Italy in a televised World Cup match.
They killed six persons, including 87-year-old Barney Greene, one of the oldest victims in the ‘Troubles’.
Among the failings identified in the 2016 Police Ombudsman report was that police informants at the most senior level within armed loyalist groups were involved in the importation of arms.
The arms were used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders, including the Loughinisland killings.
More than 3,600 people died during the 30-year armed conflict between Catholic Irish nationalists seeking a united Ireland and their Protestant rivals, who want to keep Northern Ireland British.