15 Former Soldiers Will Not Face Charges Over 1972 Bloody Sunday Killings

Bloody Sunday victims denied justice as 15 ex-soldiers avoid perjury charges due to insufficient evidence, raising concerns about accountability for British troops during the Troubles.

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Rafia Tasleem
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15 Former Soldiers Will Not Face Charges Over 1972 Bloody Sunday Killings

15 Former Soldiers Will Not Face Charges Over 1972 Bloody Sunday Killings

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland has announced that 15 former British soldiers investigated for perjury over the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings in Londonderry will not face charges due to insufficient evidence. The PPS also stated that one former alleged member of the Official IRA will not be prosecuted.

The Bloody Sunday incident was one of the most notorious events during the conflict in Northern Ireland, where soldiers from the Parachute Regiment opened fire on a civil rights march on January 30, 1972, killing 13 people and injuring another man who died four months later. The Bloody Sunday Inquiry, headed by Lord Saville and announced in 1998, concluded in 2010 that the victims were innocent and that there was no justification for the shooting of those killed or wounded.

The inquiry also found that some soldiers had knowingly put forward false accounts to justify their actions. However, after considering the available evidence, the PPS determined that it did not meet the high criminal standard of proof required for prosecution and there was no reasonable prospect of securing a conviction.

Why this matters: The decision not to prosecute the former soldiers is a significant setback for the families of the Bloody Sunday victims in their long-running campaign for justice. It raises questions about accountability for the actions of British troops during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The PPS acknowledged that the decision would be disappointing for the victims and their families, but emphasized that it was made impartially and independently after thorough consideration of the evidence and complex legal issues involved. "I recognize these decisions bring further pain to victims and bereaved families who have relentlessly pursued justice for almost 50 years and have faced many set-backs," PPS director Stephen Herron said.

The families of the Bloody Sunday victims expressed deep disappointment and frustration with the PPS decision, calling it "an affront to the rule of law" and "a continuation of the injustice that was perpetrated on Bloody Sunday." They are considering further legal action, including a possible judicial review, but face challenges due to upcoming legislation that could provide conditional immunity for Troubles-related offenses.

While the 15 former soldiers and the ex-Official IRA member will not face charges related to the inquiry, one former soldier, known as Soldier F, is still set to stand trial for the murder of two individuals on Bloody Sunday and the attempted murders of four others.

Key Takeaways

  • 15 ex-British soldiers won't face perjury charges over Bloody Sunday killings.
  • Bloody Sunday Inquiry found victims were innocent, soldiers gave false accounts.
  • PPS says insufficient evidence to prosecute, disappointing for victims' families.
  • Families consider further legal action, but face challenges from upcoming legislation.
  • One ex-soldier, Soldier F, still set to stand trial for Bloody Sunday murders.