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Saturday May 18, 2024

British ex-soldiers will not be prosecuted over Bloody Sunday perjury

The inquiry published its report in 2010, finding that some soldiers had knowingly put forward false accounts

By Reuters
April 20, 2024
Relatives and supporters of the victims of the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings hold images of those who died. — AFP/File
Relatives and supporters of the victims of the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings hold images of those who died. — AFP/File

DUBLIN: Fifteen former British soldiers and a civilian who was an alleged member of the IRA will not be prosecuted for perjury over evidence given to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, the Northern Ireland Prosecution Service said on Friday.

The Inquiry, also known as the Saville Inquiry after its chairman, Lord Saville, was established in 1998 by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to examine the circumstances that led to the killing of 13 civilians by soldiers of the Parachute Regiment in Derry in 1972. A 14th person died later.

“Bloody Sunday” was the worst single shooting incident of the Troubles, three decades of sectarian violence involving nationalists seeking a united Ireland, unionists wanting to remain part of the United Kingdom, and British forces.

The inquiry published its report in 2010, finding that some soldiers had knowingly put forward false accounts.

“The prosecution team has determined that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction of any suspect considered,” the PPS said in a statement.

PPS senior public prosecutor John O’Neill said the prosecution team had examined a “vast amount of material” and were faced with “complex evidential and legal issues”.

He said the decision not to prosecute the 16 individuals in no way undermined the findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured were not posing a threat to any of the soldiers.

One of the soldiers considered for prosecution on perjury charges is Soldier F, is currently being prosecuted for the murder of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murder of four other men on Bloody Sunday. Friday’s decision does not affect the decision to prosecute Soldier F for these offences.