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Bloody Sunday: Derry awaits decision on 1972 killings

14 March 2019

A former British soldier is set to be prosecuted in connection with the deaths of two civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland 47 years ago, part of an incident known as Bloody Sunday, prosecutors said Thursday (Friday morning NZ time).

"I$3 t has been concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction", the statement said.

The march had been banned by Northern Ireland's police and the British Army, but organizers wanted a peaceful demonstration, avoiding confrontation at the barricades with the well-armed soldiers.

A murder investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) followed the £195 million inquiry and files on 18 soldiers were submitted to prosecutors in 2016 and 2017 for consideration.

The PPS found there was sufficient evidence to charge the ex-serviceman "Soldier F", but insufficient evidence to bring charges against 16 other former members of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment and two IRA suspects present on the day of the killings.

"And the Government will urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues".

The PPS has concluded that there is evidence available to prosecute a former soldier for the murder of two of the 13 people who were killed in the Bogside area of Londonderry on January 30 1972. "In these cases the evidential test is not met".

The ex-soldier has been hand-delivered a letter informing him of the decision.

The Bloody Sunday Memorial in Derry's Bogside, 06-04-2019.

British prime minister Theresa May
British prime minister Theresa May

The PPS pored over more than 125,000 pages of evidence from Bloody Sunday in coming to their decision.

Those killed on Bloody Sunday were John "Jackie" Duddy, 17, Michael Kelly, 17, Hugh Gilmour, 17, John Young, 17, Kevin McElhinney, 17, Gerard Donaghy, 17, William Nash, 19, Michael McDaid, 20, James "Jim" Wray, 22, William McKinney, 26, Patrick Doherty, 31, Gerard McKinney, 35, and Bernard "Barney" McGuigan, 41.

"If you have a family member and something like that happens to them. your brother, your poor dead brother is treated like he never existed, that he wasn't worth justice, what every one of us are entitled to".

UK Prime Minister David Cameron tells MPs in the House of Commons that the Saville Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings found the actions of British soldiers were 'both unjustified and unjustifiable, ' 15-07-2010.

Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron said he was conscious relatives faced an "extremely hard day".

Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence.

He added: "I am mindful that it has been a long road for the families to reach this point and today will be another extremely hard day for many of them".

Mr Herron said the decisions in no way undermined the findings of Saville - that those shot were not posing a threat to the soldiers.

Bloody Sunday: Derry awaits decision on 1972 killings