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Report: Man Shot By Army In 1971 Innocent

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Aug. 12 (UPI) — A young man killed by a British soldier 40 years ago in Northern Ireland was unarmed and not a member of any militant group, a report released Thursday said.

The Historical Enquiries Team released its findings on the 40th anniversary of Billy McKavanagh’s death, the Belfast Telegraph reported. The report said McKavanagh, 21, had picked up a pair of rubber boots someone else had stolen and then run away when soldiers approached.

“Billy’s death was an absolute tragedy that should not have happened,” the report said.

McKavanagh was shot in the back in the Markets neighborhood in Belfast in the small hours.

At the time, the Army said the shooting was justified. The soldier who fired at McKavanagh said he thought he was carrying a rivet gun.

The team found no evidence McKavanagh belonged to a paramilitary group.

McKavanagh’s twin sister, Margaret Duffy, and other relatives attended a news conference at which the report was made public.

“We are delighted after what has went on, but now we are going forward. We want an apology from the British Government,” she said. “What is the difference? Why shouldn’t my brother get an apology? Forty years — we’ve waited so long to hear he was an innocent victim — and I’m really delighted. This should be the final step of it.”

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