Ex-soldier to be charged in Bloody Sunday killings
Ex-soldier to be charged in Bloody Sunday killings
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14 March, 2019, 21:56
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.
A former British soldier is set to be prosecuted in connection with the deaths of two civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland 47 years ago, part of an incident known as Bloody Sunday, prosecutors said Thursday (Friday morning NZ time).
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.
Prosecutors said there is insufficient evidence to prosecute other former British soldiers or alleged members of the Official IRA over the events of Bloody Sunday.
It became known as one of the worst atrocities during The Troubles - Northern Ireland's three decades of civil unrest.
It cost a quarter of a billion dollars and its conclusions, announced by British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010, brought cheers from the people of Derry, in particular the victims' families.
The letter went on: "The Ministry of Defence has ensured that all veterans under investigation in Bloody Sunday are aware of the support available, either via their legal representatives or directly".
Linda Nash, the brother of William Nash, a 19-year-old killed on the day, was tearful when she emerged from the hotel.
Chief prosecutor Stephen Herron said there was a very strict test for prosecutions.
"We would like to remind everyone that no prosecution or if it comes to it no conviction does not mean not guilty, it does not mean that no crime was committed, it does not mean that those soldiers acted in a dignified and appropriate way", Mickey McKinney, brother to one of the victims, told a news conference.
The Saville Report, which was published in 2010 after a 12-year inquiry by High Court Judge Lord Saville, reversed the findings of a hastily-convened inquiry from 1972 by another judge, Lord Widgery, who concluded the soldiers only fired after being fired upon.
Ex-paratroopers have claimed they opened fire after being fired upon first.
The charges announced yesterday come more than two years after police referred their findings to prosecutors and nearly nine years after the conclusion of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, which was tasked with determining what happened, not bringing criminal charges.
The British government said it would provide full legal support to the soldier who will face prosecution.
"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance", Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said in a statement.
"And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues".
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".
The complex investigation files included 668 witness statements, numerous physical exhibits such as photographs, video and audio recordings, and a total of 125,000 pages of material.
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