Belfast Telegraph

Prosecute soldiers if strong evidence exists, says Bloody Sunday inquiry chair Lord Saville

Lord Saville led the inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday in January 1972
Lord Saville led the inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday in January 1972

The judge who led the inquiry into Bloody Sunday has said Troubles soldiers should be prosecuted if there is strong evidence against them.

Lord Saville made the comments after new Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said a statute of limitations would be introduced putting a time limit on any prosecutions of soldiers accused of committing crimes.

However, this legal protection would not apply to soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.

Lord Saville, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, said a political solution was needed to decide how to deal with soldiers alleged to have committed crimes.

"There are very strong views on both sides," he said.

"Those families who lost members through the actions of soldiers can say with considerable justice that the soldiers should face a trial if they appear to have committed a criminal offence.

"On the other side, as the years and decades go by, it can be said that it is starting to become unfair that soldiers should face such prosecutions so long after the event. These are difficult questions but they are questions that call for a political answer and I am not a politician."

Bloody Sunday, when British Army killed 14 innocent civilians

When pressed on if soldiers should be brought to trial if evidence was available, Lord Saville agreed.

"If there is strong evidence then cases should be brought but the next question arises is why they were not brought earlier," he said.

"As time goes by justice delayed, in the end, is no justice at all."

Lord Saville said it was important to look at each case separately.

"It is very important to look at the circumstances of each individual case, very important indeed," he said.

"Because if you try and put a blanket rule in place you are quite likely to cause injustice either to the individuals being threatened with prosecution or to those who suffered loss from the action of the person concerned."

Soldiers take cover behind their sandbagged armoured cars while dispersing rioters with CS gas in Londonderry, where a civil rights march resulted in 13 men being shot dead (PA)

Lord Saville chaired the Bloody Sunday inquiry, looking into the events of 1972 when British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians during a protest march in Londonderry. Fourteen people died.

A former soldier, known as Soldier F, has been charged with murdering two people after troops opened fire on the civil rights demonstrators.

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