Dublin, March 14 (IANS) A former British soldier will be prosecuted over the Bloody Sunday shootings in Northern Ireland in 1972, prosecutors said on Thursday.
The man, identified only as “Soldier F”, faces two murder charges and four attempted murder charges over the incident in Londonderry on January 30, 1972, when 13 people were shot dead at a civil rights march in the city, which is also known as Derry.
Director of Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS), Stephen Herron, said in a statement: “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.”
The PPS said there was not enough evidence to prosecute 16 other British soldiers and two men from the Official Irish Republican Army, an armed group classified as a terrorist organization, who were also involved in the case, Efe news reported.
The decision was announced to the families of those killed in a private meeting on Thursday.
Herron said: “I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely difficult day for many of them. We wanted to meet them personally to explain the prosecution decisions taken and to help them understand the reasons.”
“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.”
The day became known as Bloody Sunday, one of the tragic days of the Northern Ireland Troubles.
“We recognize the deep disappointment felt by many of those we met with today. As prosecutors we are required to be wholly objective in our approach. However, that does not mean that we do not have compassion for all those who are affected by our decisions,” Herron said.
The Northern Irish conflict began in the 1960s and lasted until 1998 when the international Good Friday Agreement helped put an end to the violence. The early 1970s saw the deadliest years of the Troubles.
More than 3,000 people died during the conflict between unionist paramilitaries from largely Protestant areas, who identify as British, and republican militias from largely Catholic areas, who sought a re-unified Ireland.