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Further Bloody Sunday soldier prosecutions ruled out after PPS internal review

The Public Prosecution Service has upheld a decision not to proceed with cases against 15 former soldiers relating to Bloody Sunday.

The announcement is a result of an internal review requested by the families of some of the victims and follows a decision last March that only one soldier, known only as Soldier F, will face court.

He is accused of murdering James Wray and William McKinney and is further charged with five counts of attempted murder.

A total of 13 people were killed and 15 were wounded when soldiers opened fire on a civil rights demonstration in Londonderry on January 30, 1972.

The latest review of the existing evidence was conducted by PPS Senior Assistant Director Marianne O’Kane, who was not previously involved in the cases.

The families had argued that 15 members of the military should face charges in relation to the deaths of 10 victims who died on the day and 10 others who were injured.

They had also called for Soldier F to answer further charges.

Last year, it had been decided there was insufficient evidence for a reasonable chance of prosecution for the other soldiers.

A statement from the PPS said the decision has been communicated in writing to the families as well as the suspects.

The statement said Ms O’Kane had taken new decisions for each review request, but concluded the test for prosecution was not met on evidential grounds to prosecute any of the 15 soldiers.

The existing case against Soldier F is still to proceed, but the request to add further charges was also declined in the review process.

Ms O’Kane said she had understood the disappointment felt by families after the original decision not to prosecute last year and their reasons for requesting a review.

“The reviews process began substantively in November 2019, after receipt of all legal submissions, and involved applying the Test for Prosecution afresh to all available evidence submitted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) from 2016-17,” she said.

“I have concluded that the available evidence is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction of any of the 15 soldiers who were the subjects of the reviews. Accordingly, the decisions not to prosecute these 15 individuals all stand.”

She continued: “I know that today’s outcome will cause further upset to those who have pursued a long and determined journey for justice over almost five decades.

"I can only offer reassurance to all of the families and victims of Bloody Sunday, and the wider community, that my decisions were conducted wholly independently and impartially, and in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors.

“Finally, it is important to note that while Soldier F is among the 15 individuals to which these new decisions relate, the prosecution that commenced against him in 2019, which relates to two charges of murder and five charges of attempted murder, continues.”

In 2016, the PSNI had originally reported 20 suspects to the PPS in relation to the events of Bloody Sunday.

This included 18 soldiers, one of whom has since died, as well as two Official IRA suspects.

The PPS issued the initial decision not to prosecute 19 individuals on March 14, 2019.

Belfast Telegraph