Relatives of 13 Irish demonstrators shot to death by British troops on Northern Ireland 's Bloody Sunday cried tears of joy today as an epic fact-finding probe ruled that their loved ones were innocent and the soldiers entirely to blame for the 1972 slaughter. The investigation took 12 years and nearly $290 million, but the victims' families and the British, Irish, and US governments welcomed the findings as priceless to heal one of the gaping wounds left from Northern Ireland's four-decade conflict that left 3,700 dead.
The probe found that soldiers opened fire without justification at unarmed, fleeing civilians and lied about it for decades, refuting an initial British investigation that branded the demonstrators as Irish Republican Army bombers and gunmen. Thousands of residents of Londonderry gathered outside the city hall to watch the verdict come in, followed by a lengthy apology from Prime Minister David Cameron in London that moved many locals long distrustful of British leaders. The British soldiers weren't named, though it's possible they could face civil or legal lawsuits. (Read more Northern Ireland stories.)