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One former British soldier will face charges over Bloody Sunday

15 March, 2019, 08:55 | Author: Lucille Rivera
  • The relatives’ lawyers will now begin a judicial review to force the prosecution of at least some of the 16 veterans

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

They killed 13 Catholics and wounded 14 others, one of whom later died.

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.

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. Eighteen others, including 16 former British soldiers and two nationalist gunmen said to have fired shots that day, will not be prosecuted, the officials said, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable chance of conviction.

Victim's families said they were disappointed by the decision.

Darragh Macken, a lawyer for the Nash family, said the prosecutors' decision may be challenged in the High Court in Belfast.

"We were betrayed and bringing charges against soldiers is part of that betrayal".

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry found that the British soldiers had opened fire without justification at unarmed, fleeing civilians and then lied about it for decades.

At the Saville Inquiry, Soldier F admitted he had shot 17-year-old Michael Kelly - but he said that he had only fired at people with bombs or weapons. Veteran civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann's hands shook as he comforted her.

"In these circumstances, the evidential test for prosecution is not met", Herron said.

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Families of people killed on Bloody Sunday have said they are "not finished yet" after prosecutors announced that only one former paratrooper is to be prosecuted over the shootings.

He said there would be legal support for the former soldier who had been charged. No other details were released by prosecutors of the identity of the man, who would be at least in his 60s.

The UK's Defence Secretary said the individual affected by the ruling will be offered full legal support. "Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution".

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said it was important that no one said anything to prejudice the process following Thursday's decision, adding that his thoughts were with all of the families.

Although rioting had become routine for Derry's youth, McCann describes the impact of Bloody Sunday as a game-changer in Northern Ireland. But they now face a separate, lengthy.

"No-one in the armed forces wants to be above the law, but what we did need to do is ensure that they do have the protection so that they don't feel under threat".

Lord Saville's 5,000-page report stated none of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury and that soldiers had lost their self-control.

Tensions have eased since the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, which created a system for Republican and Unionist parties to share power in Northern Ireland. No one was injured.

But he welcomed the positive news for the six families impacted by the decision to prosecute soldier F. After the announcement, they were unable to hide their disappointment with the decision.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said: "Clearly, we are indebted to those who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland".

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