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  • Families of the victims walk through the Bogside before the announcement of the decision whether to charge soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday events, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland March 14, 2019.

    Families of the victims walk through the Bogside before the announcement of the decision whether to charge soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday events, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland March 14, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 March 2019

A former British soldier has been charged for murdering two in the Bloody Sunday killings of 13 civil rights demonstrators in Northern Ireland.

One former British soldier will be prosecuted for two murders in the 1972 “Bloody Sunday” killings of 13 unarmed civil rights marchers in Londonderry by British paratroopers — one of the most gruesome  and infamous incidents of the Northern Ireland conflict.

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Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced the news after relatives of the 13 civilians marched together through the streets where they were killed.

The evidence was insufficient to charge 16 other former soldiers, Northern Ireland’s PPS said Thursday.

“It has been concluded that there is sufficient available evidence to prosecute one former soldier, Soldier F, for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney, and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon, and Patrick O’Donnell,” Stephen Herron, the director of PPS said.

“In respect of the other 18 suspects, including 16 former soldiers and two alleged Official IRA members, it has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.”

British troops opened fire Sunday, Jan. 30, 1972, during a march in the Bogside, a nationalist area of Londonderry. They killed 13 people and wounded 14 others, one of whom died later.

The judicial inquiry found that the killings were unjustified and none of the 14 people were carrying firearms. It was also found out that there was no warning given, the soldiers were not under threat and they were the first ones to open fire.

“I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely difficult day for them. There has been a level of expectation around the prosecution decisions in the light of the findings of the Bloody Sunday inquiry,” Herron said.

“However, much of the material which was available for consideration by the inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings due to strict rules of evidence that apply. We recognize the deep disappointment felt by many of those we met with today. As prosecutors, we are required to be wholly objective in our approach.”

The Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the secretariat will provide all possible support to the prosecuted as they are “indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland.”


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