Bloody Sunday: Derry awaits decision on 1972 killings

Alan Barry

PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images Families of those died march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, towards the Guildhall ahead of the announcement as to whether 17 former British soldiers and two former members of the Official IRA will be prosecuted in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday in the city in January 1972.

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

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

In a landmark decision, prosecutors in Northern Ireland said on Thursday that one elderly former soldier will face charges for murder and attempted murder over the events of January 30 1972.

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has announced the charge today as families gathered in Londonderry.

Following the Saville Inquiry report's publication, then-Prime Minister David Cameron apologised for the soldiers' actions in the House of Commons.

Sixteen 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, the PPS said.

We wanted to meet with them personally to explain the prosecution decisions taken and to help them understand the reasons.

It followed a previous report into the Bloody Sunday killings which had largely exonerated the British soldiers.

"In these circumstances the evidence Test for Prosecution is not met".

"The Bloody Sunday families are not finished yet", he said.

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"There has been a level of expectation around the prosecution decisions in light of the findings of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry".

Ciaran Shiels, the solicitor for several of the victims' families, said: "We are disappointed that not all of those responsible are to face trial".

Mr Williamson told Political Thinking With Nick Robinson's BBC Radio 4 podcast: "We need to give protections to service personnel ... to ensure we don't have spurious prosecutions. However, that does not mean that we do not have compassion for all those who are affected by our decisions".

The complex investigation files included 668 witness statements, numerous physical exhibits such as photographs, video and audio recordings, and a total of 125,000 pages of material.

Hugh Gilmore (third left) clutching his stomach after he was shot during Bloody Sunday.

Linda Nash, the brother of William Nash, a 19-year-old killed on the day, was tearful when she emerged from the hotel.

She said: "I think of my brother every single day".

"Justice matters to anybody", she said.

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

According to RTÉ, the retired soldier is expected to robustly contest the charges.

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