Bloody Sunday: One soldier to face prosecution

Bloody Sunday: One soldier to face prosecution

The families had gathered in the city's Bogside at around 9am this morning before marching to the Guildhall to hear the decision, while singing the Civil Rights anthem "We Shall Overcome".

A 14th person died later.

The PPS said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute 16 other soldiers and two official IRA men.

"As prosecutors we are required to be wholly objective in our approach". Veteran civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann's hands shook as he comforted her.

Alan Barry, from the Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans campaign group, said he feared the paratroopers would face charges, accusing the justice system in Northern Ireland of being one-sided.

"However, much of the material which was available for consideration by the Inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings, due to strict rules of evidence that apply", he said.

"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".

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.

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The letter said a dedicated team has been set up looking at ways to provide appropriate legal protection to serving and former members of the armed forces "where they now face repeated investigations and potential prosecution following events that happened many years ago".

The Bloody Sunday killings caused widespread anger at the time - not least in the United States, where support for the Irish Republican cause runs high - and almost 50 years later the incident remains highly emotive.

The victims' families have called for justice, while supporters of the soldiers say it's unfair for them to face charges decades after the events.

"None of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify their shooting", the report said. British troops subsequently withdrew from the province, but tensions still persist and a auto bomb exploded outside Londonderry's main courthouse in January.

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

Northern Ireland minister Karen Bradley has also drawn criticism for saying killings by British security forces and police "were not crimes".

Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the IRA who are now the largest nationalist party in the province, said they shared the families' disappointment and "sense of incredulity" at the decision.

"We are indebted to those soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland", Mr Williamson said.

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