Thursday, 18 April, 2019

SDLP leader says families conducted themselves with 'astonishing dignity — Bloody Sunday

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
Jeannette Daniel | 18 March, 2019, 15:12

A murder investigation was launched by police into the events of the fateful day in January 1972 when 13 civil rights activists were shot dead in Derry, Northern Ireland, and 15 others wounded.

Ms Kane was the sole occupant of the Vauxhall Corsa and was taken to the Causeway Hospital, but later died.

James Wray was 22 when he attended the march.

A public inquiry found that British troops fired first and had given misleading accounts of what happened.

The former paratrooper is being referred to only as Soldier F because all military witnesses were granted anonymity through the Saville Inquiry into the circumstances around the killings.

The shootings marked the height of a violent period known as "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland, where Catholic and Protestant paramilitary groups clashed over British control of the country.

John Kelly, whose brother Michael was shot dead on Bloody Sunday in 1972 at the age of 17, said: 'We're all very anxious, nervous, but at the same time we're sort of fairly confident that we are going to get what we want'.

The inquiry report also stated Soldier F had changed his story over the years. However, he could be identified when he is brought to trial.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed the government would support Soldier F and pay his legal costs.

He added: "The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance. and the government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution", Mr. Williamson said.

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However, the PPS said 16 other former soldiers and two suspected ex-members of the Official IRA will not face prosecution. He can not be named due to an anonymity order but is believed to be aged in his 60s or 70s.

"I$3 t has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction", the statement said.

"In these circumstances the evidence Test for Prosecution is not met".

The charges announced Thursday 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 director of the Public Prosecution Service, Stephen Herron, said there was not enough evidence admissible in criminal proceedings to charge the other soldiers with the shootings.

"We will show people that we will not tolerate one of ours being prosecuted when 300 convicted killers were released from jail and 150 "on the run" letters were handed out to those who weren't apprehended".

Prosecutors are due to make their decisions public at 11:00 GMT on Thursday 14 March, having weighed up 125,000 pages of material.

Families of the victims said they were "disappointed" by the decision to press charges against just one ex-soldier, and revealed they may ultimately bring a challenge to the High Court after giving a "detailed consideration" to the reasons provided by the PPS.

"But Bloody Sunday was different because, where the State's own authorities are concerned, we must be as sure as we can of the truth, precisely because we do pride ourselves on our democracy and our respect for the law, and on the professionalism and dedication of our security forces", Blair said.

"We are mindful of those families who received that news today, and believe me, there are many", he told the BBC.

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