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One soldier to face prosecution — Bloody Sunday

14 March 2019

British prosecutors on Thursday charged a former paratrooper with two murders and four attempted murders for the 1972 "Bloody Sunday" killings in which 13 protesters were shot dead in Derry.

The families had gathered in the city's Bogside at around 9am this morning before marching to the Guildhall to hear the decision, while singing the Civil Rights anthem "We Shall Overcome".

Soldiers take cover behind their sandbagged and armoured cars while dispersing rioters with CS gas during the Bloody Sunday riots.

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.

One soldier to face prosecution — Bloody Sunday
One soldier to face prosecution — Bloody Sunday

A statement from the prosecutors announced that 18 other suspects, including 16 ex-soldiers and two alleged Official Irish Republican Army members, under investigation will not be charged.

"In these circumstances the evidence Test for Prosecution is not met".

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

Prosecutors said consideration will now be given to allegations of perjury in respect of those suspects reported by police.

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He noted that today "will be another extremely hard day" for family members of the victims of the massacre and noted that he met with them personally "to explain the prosecution decisions taken and to help them understand the reasons".

"We will give detailed consideration to the reasons provided for decisions not to prosecute the other soldiers, with a view to making further submissions to the Prosecution Service and we shall ultimately challenge in the High Court, by way of judicial review, any prosecutorial decision that does not withstand scrutiny".

Back in 2010, the Bloody Sunday Inquiry by Lord Saville found that the massacre had been "unjustified and unjustifiable" and acknowledged that none of the victims had posed a threat when killed.

"I wish to clearly state that where a decision has been reached not to prosecute, that this is in no way diminishes any finding by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured were not posing a threat to any of the soldiers".

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"We would like to remind everyone that no prosecution or if it comes to it no conviction does not mean not guilty, it does not mean that no crime was committed, it does not mean that those soldiers acted in a dignified and appropriate way", Mickey McKinney, brother to one of the victims, told a news conference. Today the fate of their killers was announced in that building.

As a member of the Parachute Regiment's 1st battalion, Soldier F said he fired 13 rounds in Londonderry on January 30 1972, as he gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry anonymously in 2003.

Following the Saville Inquiry report's publication, then-Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the soldiers' actions in the House of Commons.

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One soldier to face prosecution — Bloody Sunday