Charging Army veterans over Bloody Sunday 50 years on ‘seems wrong’
Prosecuting Army veterans over Bloody Sunday nearly 50 years on “seems wrong”, a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee has said.
Conservative MP Johnny Mercer, a former Army officer, said the question of whether there is any new evidence against the veterans is “critical”.
He was commenting on a report that a number of former servicemen could soon face murder charges in connection with one of the Troubles’ most notorious incidents.
Thirteen people were shot dead by British Paratroopers when they opened fire on civil rights protesters on the streets of Londonderry in January 1972. A 14th died four months later in hospital.
A murder investigation was launched in 2010 in the wake of the 12-year, £200 million Saville Inquiry that found Army chiefs “lost control” of the incident.
Prosecutors examined files of evidence against 18 ex-British soldiers who were on the streets at the time and questioned them.
According to the Daily Telegraph, prosecutors in Northern Ireland will meet with victims’ families on March 14 before making an announcement on any charges being brought.
Commenting on the report, Mr Mercer tweeted: “Justice? I’m not sure. Standards must be upheld, but charging people almost half a century after incidents which have already been investigated once already, seems wrong.
“Critical question for me is: any new evidence? If not, why is this being allowed.”
The former soldiers under investigation over Bloody Sunday are thought to now be in their 60s and 70s.
One of the veterans, a former sergeant who can be identified only as Sergeant O, told the paper: “I am in my late 70s. I am in God’s waiting room. There is not a lot they can do to me. They could put me in jail and at least I’ll get a bed and medical attention.”
The recent death of one of those under investigation prompted calls for the investigations and any legal proceedings to be brought to a conclusion soon.
Kate Nash, whose brother William was killed on Bloody Sunday, said she was “disappointed”.
“If they decided they are going to prosecute then that’s going to take a couple of years more to get them to trial,” she said.
“There are concerns that I might not be here to see it and it would be very important to me. Probably a lot of the families have those same concerns.”