Belfast Telegraph

Bloody Sunday Paras must be prosecuted, say families

Relatives of people killed and injured on Bloody Sunday called today for those responsible to be prosecuted.

There is enough evidence and a public interest in court proceedings, lawyers for 20 families affected by the deaths in Londonderry said.

A Public Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: "The extensive material arising out of the Saville Report is under active consideration.

"The PPS has received representations from Madden and Finucane in relation to the events of Bloody Sunday which will be given careful consideration."

Yesterday, thousands of people took part in what is expected to be the last march to commemorate the 1972 shootings.

It was the first mass demonstration since the Saville Report last year exonerated 14 people killed by British Paratroopers who opened fire on a civil rights march through the city.

A spokesman for Madden and Finucane Solicitors said: "Following careful consideration of Lord Saville's report and its implications, we have submitted detailed representations to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) requesting that those responsible for the murders and attempted murders on Bloody Sunday be prosecuted in court.

"It is clear to us that the evidential and public interest tests for bringing prosecutions have been satisfied."

He added: "Our submissions have also been forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service in England in respect of the perjury committed by the soldiers when giving their evidence to the tribunal whilst in London."

The Saville Report, which took 12 years to complete at a cost of £195 million, is heavily critical of the Army and found that soldiers killed people without justification.

The inquiry concluded that none of the victims was armed, that soldiers gave no warnings before opening fire and that the shootings were a "catastrophe" for Northern Ireland, leading to increased violence in subsequent years.

The 5,000-page report is based on testimony from 921 witnesses, 2,500 written statements and 60 volumes of written evidence.

None of the witnesses was granted blanket immunity from prosecution. All were immune from prosecution on the grounds of self-incrimination - but there was no immunity for perjury. This meant that the evidence given by a witness could not be used against them in any future legal proceedings.

However, this does not rule out prosecutions against a witness in a broader sense, especially if the evidence against them is supplied by a third party or other witness.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 provided for the release of prisoners for crimes committed before that date during the conflict.

Prosecutions would need to be judged by the PPS to be in the public interest and the passage of time can affect the quality of the evidence.

After the actions of the soldiers were found to be "unjustified and unjustifiable", sparking an apology from Prime Minister David Cameron, the crowds that gathered in Derry marched behind a banner bearing the word "Vindicated".

Despite calls from some bereaved relatives for the annual march to be continued, most are said to have backed proposals to end the event, with alternative commemorations to be chosen instead.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph