Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Bloody Sunday probe 'excuse' claim

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A police investigation into the British Army's shooting dead of 13 civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland is being used as an excuse to stop inquiries into other unresolved murders, campaigners claimed.

Twelve external investigators could be diverted from an independent historical inquiries team tasked with reviewing all unsolved murders to probe the Bloody Sunday killings in Londonderry in 1972, it was alleged.

Bloody Sunday is among the most infamous of state killings during Northern Ireland's 30-year conflict. But human rights campaigners said any Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) decision to move detectives from other cold case reviews risked setting the families of victims against each other in a competition for resources.

The Bloody Sunday Trust said: "For the chief constable and his advisers to use the families of Bloody Sunday as an excuse to stop other investigations, can only increase the pain and hurt of other families seeking truth and justice in respect of their loved ones killed and injured in the conflict."

Recently the PSNI pledged to reopen inquiries into Bloody Sunday but Chief Constable Matt Baggott told Northern Ireland's Policing Board he did not have the resources to do so immediately. It followed a review by prosecutors for new leads after a lengthy public inquiry headed by Lord Saville reported the killings were unjustified and the victims innocent.

Police have said a senior investigating officer has been appointed to lead an investigation team into the events of 30 January 1972 in Derry.

"Preliminary work has begun into what will be a lengthy and complex investigation. The allocation of the precise resources at the SIO's disposal is still being determined," a PSNI spokeswoman added.

The investigation could dwarf others into thousands of unresolved killings by republicans, loyalists and the state.

A separate Historical Enquiries Team (HET) including detectives from outside Northern Ireland has been reviewing the evidence in many of those cases and the Pat Finucane Centre victims' group claimed the decision had been taken to move 12 external investigators from the HET to the PSNI investigation into Bloody Sunday.

Pat Finucane Centre spokesman Paul O'Connor alleged the HET's investigations were being put on hold. He said: "The PFC fully supports the Bloody Sunday families in their quest for justice... Is the intention to sow the seeds of division among families, especially those left behind and ultimately damage any prospect of historic investigations?"

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