Monday 18 December 2017

Call for Bloody Sunday prosecutions

People gathered in the Bogside area to mark the 39th anniversary of Bloody Sunday
People gathered in the Bogside area to mark the 39th anniversary of Bloody Sunday

Relatives of people killed and injured on Bloody Sunday have called for those responsible to be prosecuted.

There is enough evidence and a public interest in court proceedings, said lawyers for 20 families affected by the deaths in Derry.

On Sunday, thousands of people took part in what is expected to be the last march to commemorate the 1972 shootings. It was the first mass demonstration since the Saville Report last year exonerated 14 people killed by British Paratroopers who opened fire on a civil rights march through the city.

A spokesman for Madden and Finucane Solicitors said: "Following careful consideration of Lord Saville's report and its implications, we have submitted detailed representations to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) requesting that those responsible for the murders and attempted murders on Bloody Sunday be prosecuted in court.

"It is clear to us that the evidential and public interest tests for bringing prosecutions have been satisfied." He added: "Our submissions have also been forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service in England in respect of the perjury committed by the soldiers when giving their evidence to the tribunal whilst in London."

The Saville Report, which took 12 years to complete at a cost of £195m, is heavily critical of the British Army and found that soldiers killed people without justification.

The inquiry concluded that none of the victims were armed, that soldiers gave no warnings before opening fire and that the shootings were a "catastrophe" for the North, leading to increased violence in subsequent years.

The 5,000-page report is based on testimony from 921 witnesses, 2,500 written statements and 60 volumes of written evidence.

None of the witnesses were granted blanket immunity from prosecution. All were immune from prosecution on the grounds of self-incrimination - but there was no immunity for perjury. This meant that the evidence given by a witness could not be used against them in any future legal proceedings.

However, this does not rule out prosecutions against a witness in a broader sense, especially if the evidence against them is supplied by a third party or other witness.

Press Association

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