Derry awaits decision on 1972 killings — Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday

Soldiers take cover behind their sandbagged and armoured cars while dispersing rioters with CS gas during the Bloody Sunday riots.

Eighteen ex-paratroopers have been reported to the Public Prosecution Service over the 1972 killings.

The charges under consideration included murder, attempted murder and causing grievous bodily injury with intent to endanger life.

The UK's Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Ministry of Defence will pay Soldier F's legal costs.

"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today's decision".

On 30 January 1972 troops fired on unarmed protesters in a civil rights march in Derry, also known as Londonderry, killing 13 people and wounding 15.

The MoD letter was issued to army veterans on Tuesday evening.

The North's Public Prosecution Service has been looking at the case of 18 soldiers - one of whom has since died. "Our serving and former personnel can not live in constant fear of prosecution".

Cameron Bloody Sunday
One former British soldier to face charges over Bloody Sunday killings

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.

The British government on Wednesday said veterans found guilty of crimes during the Troubles would be eligible for early release under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

"I wish to clearly state that where a decision has been reached not to prosecute, that this is in no way diminishes any finding by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured were not posing a threat to any of the soldiers". One injured man died four months later.

Relatives of the Bloody Sunday families were visibly upset after learning of the prosecution decisions at a city centre hotel on Thursday morning. "We recognize the deep disappointment felt by many of those we met with today".

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.

Over time, though, the victims' families got organized, campaigned for justice and eventually, more than 25 years after the killings, when a peace deal was signed in Northern Ireland, the British government committed to a full-scale inquiry.

The charges follow a decade-long investigation that concluded soldiers killed 13 unarmed demonstrators protesting Britain's detention of suspected Irish nationalists.

It cost a quarter of a billion dollars and its conclusions, announced by British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010, brought cheers from the people of Derry, in particular the victims' families.

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