Anne-Marie Ellement's family welcome decision to prosecute ex-soldiers
The family of Army Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement who was found hanged after alleging she had been raped by two servicemen have welcomed "with sadness" a decision to prosecute.
Ex-corporals Thomas Fulton and Jeremy Jones have been charged with rape, the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) said.
They will face a court martial hearing and "they have the right to a fair trial", according to a statement announcing the formal charges from director of service prosecutions (DSP) Andrew Cayley.
Cpl Ellement's sister Sharon Hardy said: "While welcome, today's announcement is tinged with sadness for me because Anne-Marie - who believed so strongly in justice - is not here to see it."
Another sister Khristina Swain said: "We as a family are absolutely delighted to hear this news. We are of course deeply saddened that Anne-Marie is not here. We are so grateful for all the support we have received and we look forward to learning the truth."
Cpl Ellement hanged herself at Bulford Barracks in Wiltshire on October 9 2011, two years after she alleged that two soldiers raped her while she was stationed in Germany in November 2009.
The 30-year-old, from Bournemouth, alleged she was then bullied by other female soldiers.
An MoD spokesman said: "We are aware that two former soldiers have been charged with rape.
"This is a matter for the Service Prosecution Authority and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further while legal proceedings are ongoing."
After an initial investigation in 2009 the case was referred to the SPA who decided there was "insufficient evidence to prosecute," according to the SPA statement.
It adds: " In 2013 at the request of the family the then DSP referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service for a review. That review was completed earlier this year.
"As a result of the review, and having considered all the available evidence in this case, I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to charge the defendants with these offences and that it is in the public and service interest to prosecute them.
"In coming to this decision I have concluded that the original decision by the SPA not to prosecute was wrong."
Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg called on the MoD to review its care for vulnerable soldiers at an inquest in to Cpl Ellement's death in March.
He ruled that bullying, the "lingering" mental effects of an alleged rape, "work-related despair" and a romantic break-up were all factors in Cpl Ellement's death.
Mr Rheinberg said at the inquest in Salisbury that, although the care given to Cpl Ellement in the aftermath of the allegation had been of "high quality", the transfer of information when she returned to the UK had been "unforgivably bad".
He said he would be recommending to the MoD that it review its Suicide Vulnerability Risk Assessment procedures and ensure that medical personnel are regularly given refresher training.
Mr Rheinberg said: "It is not the function of this inquest to make a determination whether Anne-Marie was raped, that may be for another court to determine, nevertheless I find as fact that Anne-Marie believed she was raped and was deeply affected by what for her was a deeply humiliating experience."
Solicitor Emma Norton, of the human rights group Liberty who represented Cpl Ellement's family in obtaining the March 2014 inquest, welcomed the decision to prosecute.
She said: " We look forward to seeing justice take its course. We would echo the Director's warning that nothing should be done or said that could prejudice the criminal proceedings."
Ex-Cpl Fulton and ex-Cpl Jones have each been charged with two counts of the rape of a female.