Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

One soldier to face prosecution — Bloody Sunday

One soldier to face prosecution — Bloody Sunday

One former British soldier will be prosecuted for two murders in the "Bloody Sunday" killings of 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers in Londonderry by British paratroopers in 1972 - one of the most notorious incidents of the Northern Ireland conflict.

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.

Families of those who died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, ahead of an announcement over the prosecution of 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972.

The former soldier, identified only as "soldier F" of the Parachute Regiment's 1st battalion, will be charged for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney, and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe McMahon and Patrick O'Donnell.

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

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

Prosecution Service lawyers are due to meet the victims' families in Londonderry on Thursday and tell them if the soldiers will be put in the dock.

"There has been a level of expectation around the prosecution decisions in light of the findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry", he said.

A fourteenth man died months later, but it was found his death was not the results of injuries he sustained on Bloody Sunday.

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"If you have a family member and something like that happens to them. your brother, your poor dead brother is treated like he never existed, that he wasn't worth justice, what every one of us are entitled to".

The charges follow a decade-long investigation that concluded soldiers killed 13 unarmed demonstrators protesting Britain's detention of suspected Irish nationalists.

Following the Saville Inquiry report's publication, then-Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the soldiers' actions in the House of Commons.

The Northern Ireland Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Michael Agnew, informed victim's families of the decision at a private meeting this morning.

Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence.

But the PPS decisions in respect of potential perjury charges will be announced at a later date.

He added: "I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely hard day for many of them".

"We have spent time with them this morning, given them detailed information and we are committed to further engagement over the coming period".

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

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