British soldier in court over McAnespie killing

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A former British soldier accused of killing Aidan McAnespie more than 30 years ago has appeared in court.

A hearing began this week to determine if David Holden, a former Grenadier Guardsman, is to stand trial. He is charged with unlawfully killing Mr McAnespie at a checkpoint in County Tyrone on February 21 1988.

The former soldier has appeared at Dungannon Magistrates Court for the first time. Seated behind him in the public gallery were around 50 family and friends of Mr McAnespie.

A man accompanying the accused was wearing a British military regimental blazer, and there was a heavy PSNI presence both inside and outside.

Mr McAnespie was shot as he walked through a British Army checkpoint in Aughnacloy on his way to a Gaelic football match. Three bullets were fired from a British Army machine gun.

A Preliminary Investigation is now underway and is being heard by District Judge Amanda Brady.

The contents of the hearing cannot be reported at this time. The McAnespie family have urged the public to refrain from making any public comment about the case on social media as to do so could affect the outcome of the upcoming trial.

JOHNSON CRITICISED

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill has challenged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to outline what steps he and his government are taking to implement agreements made on dealing with the legacy of the past.

She was speaking after calls by some unionists and Tories to change the definition of a victim in the north of Ireland, and to end prosecutions of members of the Crown Forces.

Ms O’Neill said the British government had failed to fully implement the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

“Recent comments from Boris Johnson around investigations into the activities of current or former British state forces have caused great hurt to those bereaved by state violence,” she said.

“I have now written to Boris Johnson calling for the implementation in full of the Stormont House Agreement as a matter of urgency and making it clear that there can be no statute of limitation or amnesty for British state forces. No one can be above the law.”

She also said that politically partisan attempts by some unionists and Tories to change the definition of a victim were “a full frontal assault” on the Stormont House Agreement.

“In order to help those struggling with the legacy of the conflict, I also have made it clear once again to the British prime minister that a pension for all those seriously injured should be provided immediately and which contributes to healing all the wounds of the past.

“A collective focus on healing the wounds of the past is required and now is the time for action from the British government to make it happen.”

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