Friday 6 December 2019

Nine British paratroopers could be charged with Bloody Sunday murders

Massacre: Jackie Duddy’s body led away by the crouched figure of Fr Edward Daly in Derry on January 30, 1972
Massacre: Jackie Duddy’s body led away by the crouched figure of Fr Edward Daly in Derry on January 30, 1972

Robert Mendick

Nine more Army veterans could be charged with murder and attempted murder on Bloody Sunday, almost 50 years ago, after prosecutors in Northern Ireland announced a case review.

The soldiers, who all served in the Parachute Regiment, were informed seven months ago they would not be prosecuted over the deaths of 13 civil rights marchers in Derry on January 30, 1972.

However, lawyers acting for the relatives of those killed and wounded have handed a 149-page dossier to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland demanding that it overturn its earlier decision.

The PPS has announced it is now reviewing the files.

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Only one veteran - who can only be identified as Soldier F - was charged over the mass shooting of civilians in the early days of the Troubles.

But the law firm Madden and Finucane Solicitors submitted a legal challenge to the PPS over claims that a further nine soldiers, who also retain anonymity, should be charged.

The lawyers have also asked that three further murder charges be brought against Soldier F along with two additional attempted murder charges.

Soldier F, now in his 70s, was charged with the murder of two protesters last March. The remaining suspects were informed in writing that no charges were being brought. But the prosecution service has now been forced into a review.

"The PPS is currently reviewing decisions not to prosecute a number of suspects reported by police in connection with the events on Bloody Sunday, as requested by a number of victims and families of deceased persons involved," a spokesman said.

In all likelihood, no formal announcement will be made until 2020 and even if the PPS chooses not to overturn its earlier decision, the case will then go back to court for a judicial review.

Seventeen veterans of Bloody Sunday faced a criminal inquiry launched in 2012 after the conclusion of a 12-year public inquiry that found none of those shot by troops were armed and that soldiers had "knowingly put forward false accounts to justify their firing".

Lawyers for the victims have complained that the PPS - in bringing charges solely against Soldier F - had "erred in law" in concluding that there was no reasonable prospect of conviction for any more of the soldiers under investigation.

Irish Independent

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