Soldier F due to appear in court next month to face Bloody Sunday charges
A former paratrooper accused of the murder of two men on Bloody Sunday will appear in court next month.
The man, known only as Soldier F, will be brought to Londonderry Magistrates Court on September 18 to be charged with the murder of William McKinney and James Wray, and the attempted murder of four others on January 30, 1972.
Letters from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) were sent to the families informing them of the update.
Soldier F will be charged with the murder of Mr McKinney and Mr Wray, and the attempted murder of Patsy O'Donnell, Joe Friel, Michael Quinn and Joe Mahon.
However, a possible challenge by Soldier F's legal team could mean the defendant does not physically appear in court.
Ciaran Shiels from Madden and Finucane, who are legal representatives for all the families connected to the case except the Wray family, said relatives are awaiting a further update if this challenge is successful.
He said: "Our clients have been formally notified by a senior lawyer within the Public Prosecution Service that the committal proceedings in respect of the prosecution of Lance Corporal 'F' now have a first listing date fixed for Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at Bishop Street Courthouse in Derry.
"Outstanding material that was required from the PSNI to finalise the court papers has now been received by the PPS.
"We understand that those papers are now being finalised and will be served on the former soldier's defence lawyers.
"At this stage it is not known if Lance Corporal 'F' intends to challenge the prosecution evidence at committal. We understand that there will be a further update from the PPS in this regard closer to the hearing.
"We have been further advised that arrangements are in place to facilitate the attendance of family members and victims by the NI Court Service."
The news came after a slogan supporting the former soldier appeared on Free Derry wall in the Bogside - just metres from where 13 people were shot dead on Bloody Sunday.
The stencilled text 'Soldier F' had a Parachute Regiment logo above it. It was later removed.
Soldier F is the only member of the armed forces to face prosecution for his actions on Bloody Sunday. Since the announcement that he would be prosecuted, banners in support have appeared in loyalist areas across Northern Ireland.
Paul Doherty, whose father Patrick was killed on Bloody Sunday, said any attempts to antagonise the families would not succeed.
He said: "If this (graffiti) was an attempt to antagonise the Bloody Sunday families, it has failed, just like all the banners and flags have failed.
"The hysteria around Soldier F is deliberate, it is coming from right wing unionism and right wing media - it is coming out of blind hatred for us and for our community and support for what happened on Bloody Sunday.
"This is an attempt at incitement but they will not incite the families."