One former British paratrooper is to be charged in connection with the killings of civil rights demonstrators in Northern Ireland on Bloody Sunday in January 1972.
Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced the decision after relatives of the 13 people who died on one of the darkest days of the Troubles marched together through the streets of Derry where the victims fell.
The director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron, said: “It has been concluded that there is sufficient available evidence to prosecute one former soldier, Soldier F, for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney, and for the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.
“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.”
In November 2016, the PSNI sent a file on the matter to the DPP. This file identified the actions of 20 individuals for consideration as to whether they had committed criminal offences.
Of these, 18 individuals were former members of the British army’s Parachute Regiment, one of whom has since died. The two other people reported were allegedly then members of the Official IRA.
The findings of the Saville inquiry established that in many instances the persons involved had been responsible for “unjustified killings”. This inevitably raised expectations that there would be prosecutions.
However, having carefully reviewed each of the cases, the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland (PPS) determined that only one of the soldiers – identified as Soldier F – should face trial.
Yesterday, the PPS took the unusual step of publishing a detailed written set of reasons for its decision on the cases. That document runs to 13 pages. It is complex and legal in its language at times but it sets out the basis given for the decisions in relation to the shootings which occurred at each of the relevant locations on the day.
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