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Soldier Faces Murder Charges 47 Years After Bloody Sunday

18 other suspects are off the hook
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2019 9:55 AM CDT
Families hold photographs of the victims of Bloody Sunday while marching in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on Thursday.   (Liam McBurney/PA via AP)
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(Newser) – The first charges have been laid 47 years after Northern Ireland's Bloody Sunday, when 13 demonstrators were shot and killed by British troops. A former paratrooper is charged with the murders of two men, James Wray and William McKinney, and the attempted murders of four others: Patrick O'Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon, and Michael Quinn. Those four were among 15 injured when bullets rained at a civil rights march in Derry on Jan. 30, 1972, per the Guardian. An initial investigation labeled the demonstrators as violent members of the Irish Republican Army. A separate 12-year investigation—the Saville Inquiry—wrapped in 2010, putting blame on soldiers. They were found to have fired on unarmed and fleeing demonstrators without reason and lied about it for decades.

As military witnesses were granted anonymity through the Saville Inquiry, the man charged is identified only as "Soldier F," per the BBC. It was thought another two or three paratroopers would be charged, per the Guardian. However, evidence against 16 ex-soldiers and two members of the Official IRA was "insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction," according to the Public Prosecution Service. PPS Director Stephen Herron said officials would meet with families of victims "to explain the decisions taken and to help them understand the reasons," noting "much of the material which was available for consideration by the inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings." He also stressed that prosecutors have yet to consider allegations of perjury, which is next on the docket. (Read more Bloody Sunday stories.)

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