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Pending Release of British Killers Stirs Emotions

Aired January 8, 2001 - 2:24 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In London today, a court barred television and newspapers from ever showing the faces of two young killers. The boys' crime shocked Britain and the world back in 1993. Their pending release and its terms are stirring new passions about what was a horrible case.

Here's CNN's Margaret Lowrie in London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARGARET LOWRIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the first glimpse the public had of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables: video surveillance pictures showing them luring 2-year-old Jamie Bulger away from his mother. The British High Court ruling means these pictures, released after their 1993 trial, may be the last images of them the public will see.

A spokesman for Jamie Bulger's mother says she is very disappointed the killers will get a new identity upon their release.

NORMAN BRENNAN, VICTIMS OF CRIME TRUST: Despite what the government says, the views of the victims appear to count for nothing. If there is any such thing as a living hell, I and my family live it daily. I will continue to fight on for justice for James. That's all I've ever wanted.

LOWRIE: Now 18 years old, Venables and Thompson were just 11 when sentenced for killing the toddler in Liverpool. Calling it an act of "unparalleled evil and barbarity," the trial judge then said they'd be locked away for many years. Community reaction ran high before and after the trial. Their lawyers now say the two could be in danger if not given new identities upon their release.

And eight years later, some say it's time to close this particular terrible chapter.

ALAN LEVY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the boys, young men now, should be granted anonymity in the future. I think their lives have been threatened, they need protection, they need to be rehabilitated into society. And being harassed and pursued continually will work very strongly against that.

LOWRIE: Despite the ruling, the case apparently has not yet reached its conclusion. Jamie Bulger's father says he'll appeal an earlier decision that could see the killers released later this year; and some British newspapers say they'll challenge the decision to give the killers anonymity.

Margaret Lowrie, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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