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Decision due on murder retrial

A man whose convictions for murdering two soldiers were quashed is to learn whether he faces a retrial.

On Tuesday the Court of Appeal ruled that verdicts in the non-jury trial of Brian Shivers were unsafe and overturned his 25-year sentence.

The 47-year-old from Magherafelt, who is terminally ill with cystic fibrosis, will remain in custody until the Public Prosecution Service reveals its decision.

Sappers Patrick Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23, were gunned down as they collected pizza outside the gates of Massereene army barracks in Antrim in March 2009. They were just hours away from deploying to Afghanistan. The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the shootings.

High-profile republican Colin Duffy, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, was acquitted of murder charges at the trial at Antrim Crown Court last year.

The family of Patrick Azimkar, who live in London, said they felt let down by the criminal justice system.

The soldier's mother Geraldine said the decision had left her and Patrick's father Mehmet Azimkar totally disillusioned. "It seems scandalous really that this terrible murder happened and the attempted murders happened and it looks like no one is going to be held to account for it," Mrs Azimkar said. "We feel very let down by the criminal justice system. It does not seem to work for the victims of crime. The whole thing is awful from start to finish."

Last February Shivers was ordered to serve at least 25 years for his part in the killings.

His appeal against additional convictions on six counts of attempted murder and one of possession of two firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life was also allowed by the Court of Appeal. His lawyer Niall Murphy said he was concerned about his client's acute medical condition.

The Ministry of Defence said their thoughts remain with the families of Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey at what was an extremely difficult time.