Friday 21 July 2017

Transfer of Bloody Sunday paras to NI is blocked by court

William Nash (19) was shot dead on Bloody Sunday Photo credit: Bloody Sunday Trust/PA Wire
William Nash (19) was shot dead on Bloody Sunday Photo credit: Bloody Sunday Trust/PA Wire

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Relatives of Bloody Sunday victims have expressed anger and frustration at a High Court ruling preventing former soldiers being questioned by police in Northern Ireland.

Three leading judges have blocked the arrest and transfer to Northern Ireland of former paratroopers who face questioning over whether they committed alleged criminal offences on the day.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mrs Justice Carr rejected accusations they were being invited to provide the men with "special treatment" which could hinder the probe into the deaths of 14 civil rights demonstrators in Derry 43 years ago.

The judges, at London's High Court, declared in a joint ruling there was no reason why the seven ex-soldiers, whose identities are being protected, could not be interviewed in England and Wales, where they live.

However, families of the dead have accused the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) of deploying stalling tactics and vowed to continue their quest for justice.

Kate Nash, whose 19-year-old brother William was killed, said: "We have fought for a very long time and we will continue to fight. If it takes us to go to England then so be it."

Some 13 people were shot dead when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights protesters marching in Derry on January 30 1972. Another man died from his wounds several months later.

Ms Nash wants to see the ex-paratroopers put before the courts.

She added: "I want them tried and, if found guilty, I'll settle for whatever punishment a judge gives them, whether that's two years or whatever.

"I am not interested in punishment, I am interested in the law taking its course for innocent victims.

"I was not surprised by the court ruling. It is very evident that the MoD and British government are going to fight this tooth and nail all the way.

"We have never been on a level playing field but I love my brother very much and it has given me a passion for justice, not just for him, but for all innocent victims."

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is examining whether criminal offences may have been committed by soldiers who used lethal force.

However, after the detention of an ex-paratrooper in Co Antrim, seven retired soldiers launched their judicial review action at the High Court in London.

Mickey McKinney, whose brother William was among those killed, was also not surprised by the judgment.

He said: "I am not shocked. It was more or less expected that the judge was going to give that type of judgment.

"We have been here before during the inquiry.

"One argument I believe they put forward was they feared for their safety if they came to Derry. But I say the queen and Prince Charles have come to Derry and the police stepped up to the mark to protect them and, to my knowledge, there were no instances in which their safety was put at risk.

"We have been here before. It is frustrating and I am angry but time is a major factor in this case. We are all getting older and it is important that we get things moving.

"They would probably get the same interview here (Northern Ireland) as in England, so a decision has been made, so let's get moving on."

Sinn Féin said the court's decision does little to instil confidence in the justice system.

Irish Independent

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