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Protestant Gunman Sentenced in Belfast to Six Life Terms

From United Press International

A Protestant gunman who killed three mourners at an Irish Republican Army funeral last March in a gun-and-grenade attack received six life sentences in Belfast on Friday.

Michael Stone, a 33-year-old father of two, also was found guilty of the murders of three other Roman Catholics.

Justice Eoin Higgins, who told Stone he was “a dangerous and ruthless criminal,” recommended he serve at least 30 years of the six consecutive life sentences, each of which normally brings 14 years of incarceration.

Stone was cheered by crowds in the gallery when he defiantly gave a clenched fist salute and shouted, “Long live Ulster. No surrender.”

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Rivals Separated

Police moved in to separate rival Republican and Protestant factions who jeered and screamed at each other as Stone was led from the courtroom.

During the two-week trial, the court heard how Stone mingled with mourners at the Belfast funeral of three IRA members shot dead by the British Army in Gibraltar March 7.

At the time, he was armed with seven grenades and a semiautomatic pistol. As TV cameras and the world’s press watched, Stone raised his fist in a salute, then lobbed the grenades into the crowd of mourners gathered around the grave sites in a cemetery reserved for IRA members.

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Stone then fired bursts of shots into the crowd and escaped to a nearby roadway before eventually being arrested.


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