Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Decision to prosecute soldier reopens old wounds — Bloody Sunday

Decision to prosecute soldier reopens old wounds — Bloody Sunday

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service declined to charge another 16 former soldiers from the same battalion, citing insufficient evidence.

It pitched Irish nationalists, who wanted the north to unite with the Republic of Ireland in the south, against unionists, who campaigned for the region to remain part of the UK.

ONE former British paratrooper involved in the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre of 14 civilians in Derry is to face prosecution, Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service has announced.

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

However, the government has proposed legislation to widen the programme to offences taking place from 1968, meaning any Bloody Sunday prosecutions would be eligible.

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

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

Families of victims of Bloody Sunday, in which 13 unarmed protesters were killed in 1972, marched before the prosecutor's announced charges against a former British paratrooper.

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".

"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".

Back in 2010, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry by Lord Saville found that the massacre had been "unjustified and unjustifiable" and acknowledged that none of the victims had posed a threat when killed.

"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.

"We are making a summary of the reasons for our decisions available today to provide assurance to the public that our statutory responsibility was undertaken in this case with absolute integrity and impartiality, without fear or favour".

Those killed on Bloody Sunday were John "Jackie" Duddy, 17, Michael Kelly, 17, Hugh Gilmour, 17, John Young, 17, Kevin McElhinney, 17, Gerard Donaghy, 17, William Nash, 19, Michael McDaid, 20, James "Jim" Wray, 22, William McKinney, 26, Patrick Doherty, 31, Gerard McKinney, 35, and Bernard "Barney" McGuigan, 41.

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

She said: "I think of my brother every single day".

"Justice matters to anybody", she said.

Relatives sought to right the wrongs of false claims that their loved ones had been armed.

According to RTÉ, the retired soldier is expected to robustly contest the charges.

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