News In Brief

Mass Belfast trial puts 39 in the dock as IRA suspects

The biggest trial ever of anti-British guerrilla suspects in Northern Ireland opened Tuesday with 39 defendants facing 190 charges on the word of an IRA informer.

The 36 men and three women from Londonderry were arrested after Raymond Gilmour, a member of the Irish Republican Army, turned informer in August 1982. Outside Belfast Crown Court, protesters waved placards saying ''stop the show trials'' and denouncing Mr. Gilmour.

The charges against the defendants range from murder, attempted murder, and possessing guns and bombs to helping illegal organizations. The trial is expected to last about eight months, with Gilmour spending several weeks testifying.

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