One former British soldier will face charges over Bloody Sunday

Sergio Conner
March 14, 2019

Families of those killed on Bloody Sunday march through the Bogside in Londonderry ahead of the announcement on prosecutions.

A former British paratrooper has been charged for the killing of two unarmed protesters in Northern Ireland in 1972, in an incident that has become known as Bloody Sunday.

It is signed by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, and lays out arrangements for soldiers who "are subject to investigations by the Police Service of Northern Ireland", or "who may be required to participate in other legal processes, such as inquests and public inquiries".

In a letter to army veterans, the MoD said soldiers are represented "entirely at the Ministry of Defence's expense".

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

The UK Ministry of Defence has said its serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution. "In these cases the evidential test is not met".

Today, its director Stephen Herron confirmed that one former soldier, referred to as Soldier F, will be prosecuted for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney.

Fourteen people were fatally injured after British soldiers opened fire on a crowd following a civil rights march in Derry on January 30th 1972.

Families of those who died on Bloody Sunday marching through the Bogside in Londonderry.

One former British soldier will face charges over Bloody Sunday

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.

Relatives of the Bloody Sunday families were visibly upset after learning of the prosecution decisions at a city centre hotel on Thursday morning.

Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron said he was conscious relatives faced an "extremely hard day".

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".

"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".

Mr Herron said the decisions in no way undermined the findings of Saville - that those shot were not posing a threat to the soldiers.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was killed, said today's news was a "terrible disappointment".

"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.

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

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