Just one former soldier will be prosecuted for the Bloody Sunday massacre

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Peadar O'Cearnaigh

On 14 March, the prosecution service in the north of Ireland announced that just one of the surviving 17 paratroopers will face prosecution for his part in the Bloody Sunday massacre. This massacre happened in Derry’s Bogside on 30 January 1972. 13 people were killed and a further person later died from their injuries.

The former soldier, Soldier F, will face prosecution for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney. He will also face prosecution for the attempted murder of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon, and Patrick O’Donnell.

Announcement

The director of the prosecution service stated:

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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.

Expectations

Solicitors representing some of the victims’ families submitted that Corporal P and Lance Corporal J should also face prosecution for the murders of John Young and Michael McDaid. The Canary previously reported that at least four others could face prosecution. This wasn’t to be.

Reason for the march on Bloody Sunday

On 30 January 1972, civil rights protesters marched against internment without trial. Just like Guantanamo Bay, internment meant arresting and detaining people without a court hearing.

When internment ended on 5 December 1975, of the 1,981 people who’d been arrested, 1,874 were from the republican community. Only a small number of those arrested in the early raids were IRA members. There were also allegations of torture.

Tribunals of the past

The Widgery tribunal began to investigate the massacre immediately afterwards. But it exonerated the parachute regiment and blamed the march for the murders. There were several inconsistencies in the Widgery report and victims’ families believed it was a whitewash.

The more credible Saville inquiry didn’t begin until 1998. 12 years later, it found the 14 massacred civilians were innocent and their killings “unjustified”. It also found that soldiers lied to the inquiry.

Soldier F is the first person to face prosecution for the massacre

Featured Image via Giuseppe Milo/Flickr

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    1. “Bloody Sunday” is a stain on the reputation of British forces, any member of UK forces has to be held to account for their actions. As was stated in the Saville report the officers were running around trying to stop the squaddies murdering innocent civilians, the defence secretary is a disgrace, he is attempting to sanction murder.

    2. It needs to be said, the so-called “Parachute Regiment” is the UK’s Waffen-SS, an instrument of state terror, a “battlefield gendarmerie” whose purpose is enforcing an occupying power’s control over an occupied territory; in any postwar war crimes trial, the “Reg” would be declared an Illegal Organisation, like the SS was at Nuremburg, whose members were declared “Unlawful Combatants” and subject to the death penalty in the countries where they had operated; France used this fact to “persuade” former SS to join the Foreign Legion and serve in Algeria and Indochina as France never allows its citizens to be extradited and the only way to become a French citizen at the time was to serve in its Army.

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