Bloody Sunday murder case against former paratrooper reaches court
The prosecution of a former soldier accused of two murders on Bloody Sunday has reached a courtroom for the first time.
The case of Soldier F, who also faces five attempted murder charges in relation to the shootings in Derry on January 30, 1972, was heard before a district judge in Derry Magistrates' Court.
The veteran was not present for the short hearing yesterday.
The ex-paratrooper's barrister, Mark Mulholland QC, confirmed his client would be challenging the attempt to send him for Crown Court trial by testing witness evidence at a committal hearing in the Magistrates' Court.
"It's our intention that committal proceedings will necessitate the calling of evidence," he said.
Mr Mulholland's application to adjourn proceedings to December 4, in order to provide time to assess which witnesses the defence wishes to call, was granted by District Judge Barney McElholm.
The judge also granted an interim anonymity order to continue the protection of the accused's identity.
Prosecution lawyer Sam Magee said he did not object to the adjournment or the granting of the anonymity order. Mr McElholm said he accepted it would "take some time" before the committal could proceed.
"It's important that this is all done with a degree of fairness to all concerned in these matters," he said.
The decision to prosecute the ex-paratrooper was announced by the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service in March.
He was not required to attend court at this stage of the criminal proceedings. Mr Mulholland requested that Soldier F be excused from appearing in court until the committal hearing.
Bloody Sunday became one of the most notorious incidents of the Northern Ireland Troubles when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on a crowd of civil rights demonstrators, killing 13.
Soldier F is accused of murdering James Wray and William McKinney.
He also stands accused of the attempted murders of Patrick O'Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn. He faces a seventh supporting charge of the attempted murder of a person or persons unknown on the day.
Relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday walked together to court ahead of the hearing.
They assembled in the Diamond area of the city before walking together to the courthouse. Police closed the road to facilitate the walk.
Outside court, Mr McKinney's brother Mickey said: "This is a very significant event for us on the journey towards achieving the third and final demand of the Bloody Sunday justice campaign - the prosecution of a soldier for murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday."