Ex-soldier charged with N Ireland killings

Derry, United Kingdom: Northern Irish prosecutors on Thursday charged a former British soldier with murder over the “Bloody Sunday” killings of 1972 in a politically sensitive case that has stirred passions in both Britain and Ireland.
The ex-paratrooper, known only as Soldier F, was charged with murdering two people and the attempted murder of four others when troops opened fire on a demonstration in Derry in which 13 protesters were shot dead.
Soldier F was one of 17 British veterans who had faced investigation over Bloody Sunday but he was the only one charged.
“This is a remarkable achievement by the families and victims of Bloody Sunday,” said Ciaran Shiels, a solicitor for some of the victims’ families.
But Shiels added: “We are disappointed that not all of those responsible are to face trial.”
Relatives looked sombre as they emerged from a press conference in which the decision was announced by the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland.
“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,” said PPS director Stephen Herron.
British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the defence ministry would support Soldier F and pay his legal costs.
“We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” he said.
“The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support,” he said.
He added that the government was working to reform the system “for dealing with legacy issues”.
“Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution,” he said.
Besides 16 former British soldiers not charged, state prosecutors also declined to bring charges against two alleged ex-members of the Irish Republican Army for their role on the day, one of the seminal events in the three-decades-long Northern Irish conflict known as “The Troubles”.
“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,” said prosecutor Herron. — AFP