Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Former British soldier charged over 1972 'Bloody Sunday' killings

Young Catholic rioters hurl projectiles 02 March 1972 in Londonderry at British soldiers during a rally protesting the 30 January Bloody Sunday killing by British paratroopers of 13 Catholics civil rights marchers in Londonderry UK Soldier Faces Prosecution for Bloody Sunday Killings in N Ireland in 1972 AFP 2018
Ellis Copeland | 14 March, 2019, 20:13

One former soldier, identified as Soldier F, was one of 17 former members of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment whose actions in Londonderry were being considered for criminal charges.

British prosecutors on Thursday charged a former paratrooper with two murders and four attempted murders for the 1972 "Bloody Sunday" killings in which 13 protesters were shot dead in Derry.

The PPS has concluded that there is evidence available to prosecute a former soldier for the murder of two of the 13 people who were killed in the Bogside area of Londonderry on January 30 1972.

An investigation by the PSNI followed the £195 million inquiry and files on 18 soldiers were submitted to prosecutors in 2016 and 2017 for consideration.

The evidence was insufficient to charge 16 other former soldiers, Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service said on Thursday.

Soldiers take cover behind their sandbagged armoured cars in Londonderry, Northern Ireland on January 30, 1972.

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has announced the charge today as families gathered in Londonderry.

He noted that today "will be another extremely hard day" for family members of the victims of the massacre and noted that he met with them personally "to explain the prosecution decisions taken and to help them understand the reasons".

The letter said a dedicated team has been set up looking at ways to provide appropriate legal protection to serving and former members of the armed forces "where they now face repeated investigations and potential prosecution following events that happened many years ago".

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He said: "This is a remarkable achievement by the families and victims of Bloody Sunday".

The march had been banned by Northern Ireland's police and the British Army, but organizers wanted a peaceful demonstration, avoiding confrontation at the barricades with the well-armed soldiers.

Following the inquiry's conclusion in 2010, then prime minister David Cameron said the killings were "unjustified and unjustifiable".

"And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues".

The victims' families have called for justice, while supporters of the soldiers say it is unfair for them to face charges decades after the events.

The government-commissioned inquiry, undertaken by Lord Saville, found none of the victims was posing a threat to soldiers when they were shot.

"I wish to clearly state that where a decision has been reached not to prosecute, that this is in no way diminishes any finding by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured were not posing a threat to any of the soldiers".

Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence. After the announcement, they were unable to hide their disappointment with the decision.

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