One former British soldier will face charges over Bloody Sunday

One former British soldier will face charges over Bloody Sunday

Nearly half a century since unarmed civilians were gunned down in Northern Ireland by British soldiers, one veteran will now be charged with murder.

However, the PPS said 16 other former soldiers and two suspected ex-members of the Official IRA, all of whom were also investigated as part of a major police murder probe, will not face prosecution.

He will face charges for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell in Londonderry in 1972.

However, Mr Shiels did welcome the news of Soldier F's prosecution as a "remarkable achievement by the families and victims of Bloody Sunday".

The prosecution of a former paratrooper for murder on Bloody Sunday provoked a storm of protest last night over fears he can not get a fair trial and warnings of further legal actions against veterans.

But the results of the inquiry that concluded in 2010 could not be used in any prosecution, and Thursday's charges resulted from a separate police investigation into the incident.

The man has been charged with the murders of James "Jim" Wray, 22, and William McKinney, 26, during a peaceful Civil Rights demonstration in the largely Catholic area of Derry's Bogside on January 30, 1972. Those findings refuted an initial investigation that took place soon after the slayings, which branded the demonstrators as IRA bombers and gunmen.

A FORMER British soldier is set to be prosecuted over the Bloody Sunday shooting in Northern Ireland.

"How many more of us are going to have to go through it?" Relatives were visibly upset following the announcement of the decision.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was killed, said the attorney general should decide if the defence secretary or other politicians have broken the law.

Nonetheless, he said the relatives were happy for the families of the six victims who will now see a soldier prosecuted.

British prime minister Theresa May
British prime minister Theresa May

"We have walked the long journey since our fathers and brothers were brutally slaughtered on the streets of Derry", the families said in a statement. Over that passage of time, all the parents of the deceased have died. We wanted to meet with them personally to explain the prosecution decisions taken and to help them understand the reasons.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said it was important that no one said anything to prejudice the process following Thursday's decision, adding that his thoughts were with all of the families.

'And all the families probably feel the same way, that what we're trying to achieve is for them (the victims)'.

The inquiry was authorised by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998 ahead of the negotiations that led to the Good Friday peace accord.

But family members said they were deeply disappointed that more paratroopers will not be charged over the incident.

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

The UK Ministry of Defence has said its serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution.

"It's not just about Northern Ireland, but about Iraq and Afghanistan, conflicts before that and in the future".

Afterwards, Mr Williamson confirmed the Ministry of Defence would support Soldier F and pay all legal costs.

A Government spokesperson said: "The welfare of our personnel and veterans is of the utmost importance and we provide legal and pastoral support to any veteran who requires it".

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