Watch live Bloody Sunday prosecution decision

Frederick Owens
March 14, 2019

The charges follow a decade-long investigation that concluded the soldiers killed unarmed demonstrators.

Pallbearers carry one of 13 coffins of Bloody Sunday victims to a graveside on February 2, 1972.

Fourteen civilians were killed when British soldiers fired on a crowd after a civil rights march in the city.

The charges announced yesterday come more than two years after police referred their findings to prosecutors and nearly nine years after the conclusion of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, which was tasked with determining what happened, not bringing criminal charges.

Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Stephen Herron said he was conscious relatives faced an "extremely hard day", but "much of the material which was available for consideration by the Inquiry is not admissible in criminal proceedings, due to strict rules of evidence that apply", he said.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was killed, said today's news was a "terrible disappointment".

The letter said a dedicated team has been set up looking at ways to provide appropriate legal protection to serving and former members of the armed forces "where they now face repeated investigations and potential prosecution following events that happened many years ago". Relatives were visibly upset following the announcement of the decision.

"Their victory is our victory", Kelly said. "We are here to take their place".

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Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has announced the charge today as families gathered in Londonderry. English judge Mark Saville, who conducted the investigation, gave the ex-paratroopers broad protections from criminal charges and anonymity, citing the risk that they could be targeted with retaliation by IRA dissidents.

The families campaigned for prosecutions after the Saville Inquiry found their loved ones were shot without justification.

The then UK Prime Minister David Cameron later apologised for the killings in the House of Commons, in a historic move which many former servicemen in the Bogside that day believed exonerated them.

Police also investigated whether any suspects perjured themselves while giving evidence to the long-running Bloody Sunday inquiry.

The North's Public Prosecution Service has been looking at the case of 18 soldiers - one of whom has since died.

"It's not just about Northern Ireland, but about Iraq and Afghanistan, conflicts before that and in the future".

Afterwards, Mr Williamson confirmed the Ministry of Defence would support Soldier F and pay all legal costs.

A Government spokesperson said: "The welfare of our personnel and veterans is of the utmost importance and we provide legal and pastoral support to any veteran who requires it".

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