Soldiers 'cannot live in constant fear of prosecution'

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 14, 2019

A former British soldier is set to be prosecuted in connection with the deaths of two civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland more than 40 years ago, part of an event known as Bloody Sunday.

One former soldier, identified as Soldier F, was one of 17 former members of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment whose actions in Londonderry were being considered for criminal charges.

A 14th person died later.

"In respect of the other 18 suspects, including 16 former soldiers and two alleged Official IRA members, it has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction", he said.

Solicitor Ciaran Shiels, a solicitor for a number of them, said they were "disappointed that not all of those responsible are to face trial", PA reported. Their lawyers said they would challenge in the High Court any prosecutorial decision that did not withstand scrutiny.

"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".

Alan Barry, from the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans campaign group, said he feared the paratroopers would face charges, accusing the justice system in Northern Ireland of being one-sided.

The British government said it would provide full legal support to the soldier who will face prosecution.

"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance", Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said in a statement. "Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution".

Police in the North opened their investigation into the killings after the 2010 Saville Report found that British troops opened fire on Bloody Sunday without issuing a warning.

The Bloody Sunday killings caused widespread anger at the time - not least in the United States, where support for the Irish Republican cause runs high - and almost 50 years later the incident remains highly emotive. Seven people, mostly female cleaners, were killed.

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