Gerry Conlon, who was wrongly imprisoned for an Irish Republican Army bombing in 1974, died at his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Saturday following a long battle with cancer, the Associated Press reported, citing a statement from his family. He was 60.
Conlon and three others had been convicted and sentenced to life in jail for the 1974 bombing of a pub in Guildford, near London, that killed five people.
Protesting his innocence, Conlon said police had tortured him into making a false confession. The four were freed after a top judge ruled that police had fabricated the evidence used to convict them.
“I served 15 years for a crime I did not commit,” Conlon said when he finally walked out of prison in 1989, CNN reported.
The exonerations came too late for Conlon’s father, Guiseppe, who had been wrongly convicted along with six other relatives for allegedly supplying the bombs used by the Guildford Four. The elder Conlon died behind bars in 1980 and received his own posthumous pardon in 1991.
Conlon’s autobiography, “Proved Innocent,” was the basis for the 1993 film “In the Name of the Father”, which was nominated for Academy awards for best picture and actor. Daniel Day-Lewis played the role of Gerry Conlon.
The family statement said Gerry Conlon’s long campaign for justice “forced the world’s closed eyes to be opened to injustice. It forced unimaginable wickedness to be acknowledged. We believe it changed the course of history”.
“His loss will be felt both within West Belfast and across the world, with all those who work in pursuit of justice,” Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore was quoted as saying.
Conlon is survived by a partner and daughter, AP said.
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