Quick action urged on Bloody Sunday prosecution

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Lawyers acting for the families of the victims of the Bloody Sunday say prosecutors must now immediately resume proceedings against ‘Soldier F’ after a decision to drop charges against him was quashed by the High Court.

On Wednesday, a panel of judges directed prosecutors to rethink their decision that the former member of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment should not stand trial for two murders and five attempted murders in Derry in January 1972.

A separate legal bid to overturn a decision not to prosecute five other soldiers for the deaths of six people failed.

A total of fourteen people died and a similar number lay injured after a cold-blooded British military massacre was launched against a peaceful anti-internment march in Derry’s Bogside, on what became known as Bloody Sunday.

Following the judgment Ciaran Shiels of Madden and Finucane lawyers said the prosecution service “must now review its decision taking into account this court’s judgment and properly applying the principles and guidance provided by it”.

“We would call upon the PPS to move immediately to re-institute the proceedings at Derry District Judge’s Court against Soldier F and to secure his committal for trial in the Crown Court.”

His colleague Fearghal Shiels said the prosecution “could and should proceed”, and, fifty years on, it was now incumbent on prosecutors to avoid further delay.

However, the Crown said it will “take time” to consider the full detail of the written judgment. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said he wants to “draw a line” under the conflict with an amnesty which would end prosecutions of British war crimes.

The news was welcomed by relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday. Mickey McKinney, brother of William McKinney (right), one of the victims involved in the case, said they were “delighted for our own family but also for the family of Jim Wray (left) and those who were wounded in Glenfada Park” .

“It was with regret that we were forced to bring these proceedings in the first place but the PPS did not engage with us properly in respect of its decision making, but in fact came to Derry last July and presented us with a determination it had already decided upon.

“As the court has remarked today, this was in breach of the Charter for Victims and forced our hand.”

He added: “This thing has been dragged out for so many years, it is just ridiculous. Hopefully things will start moving now and we will get him into court and get justice.”

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