End of immunity for 1 Para: Bloody Sunday troops face murder arrests 41 years after massacre
As many as 20 retired British soldiers could face being arrested for murder in connection with the Bloody Sunday shootings of 1972.
Attempted murder and criminal injury charges could also be brought against the men, most of whom are now in their sixties and seventies.
The soldiers face questioning under criminal caution for their involvement in the incident which killed 14 Catholic civil rights protestors in Londonderry, Ireland.
An armed soldier attacks a protestor on Bloody Sunday when British Paratroopers shot dead 14 civilians on a civil rights march in Derry City
As many as 20 British Paratroopers could face murder charges for the deaths of Irish protestors on Bloody Sunday in 1972
The development comes three years after a £200m inquiry by Lord Saville into the shootings produced its report based on 12 years of investigation.
Its findings concluded that all those shot by paratroopers during the march in the Bogside area of Londonderry were unarmed, rendering their deaths 'unjustified and unjustifiable'.
The judge added the army had lost control of the situation which is known as one of the most poignant incidents of the Troubles.
Colonel Edward Loden commanded the unit involved in the Bloody Sunday shootings
The Ministry of Defence has started sourcing legal representatives on behalf of the soldiers, who have never been formally interviewed by police in relation to the shootings.
Colonel Edward Loden, who commanded the unit involved in the attack, was killed earlier this year in Kenya.
Loden was exonerated by the Saville Inquiry into the killings, which said that he did not realise his soldiers might be firing at people who did not pose a threat.
A source close to the case told The Sunday Times: 'It is possible that some of the soldiers will be prosecuted', adding that action would be 'imminent'.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland however said the case could take a little longer.
A spokesman said: 'Preliminary work has begun into what will be a lengthy and complex investigation into the events of January 30, 1972.
'For the investigation to be as comprehensive and effective as possible, police will be asking for public support in the form of witnesses who gave evidence to the Saville inquiry.'
The representative also revealed detectives would be prohibited from including Saville testimony to pursue criminal charges.
Fourteen unarmed protestors were murdered at the march which was held in the name of Catholic civil rights in Londonderry
A mural by by the Bogside Artists, in Bogside, Derry, pays homage to the protestors whose lives were taken by British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday
The soldiers gave anonymous evidence at the Saville Inquiry which cannot be used to pursue criminal charges
A Catholic priest prays above one of the shooting's victims on Bloody Sunday which killed 14
The expensive Saville inquiry concluded that 26 British Army soldiers had opened fire although not all of their shots hit demonstrators.
By-standers hover over one of the 13 men who were killed in the riot on January 30 1972
Two soldiers, identified only as Lance Corporal F and Soldier G, may have shot as many as eight or 10 people between them, it suggested.
Most of the soldiers involved are still alive though their identities have been protected to safeguard them from reprisals.
They each gave anonymous evidence at the Saville inquiry, in the hope their testimony would help resolve the situation once and for all.
The soldiers were given legal assurances their testimony would not later be used against them in pursuit of criminal activity.
Their accounts relied on the defence they acted under 'yellow card' rules of engagement which permits soldiers to open fire if a legitimate threat to life is identified.
Several of the men claimed they believed they were under fire, though the shots they heard were in fact echoes of those being fired near a block of flats by their colleagues.
Thirteen were killed on January 30 after soldiers opened fire on the streets of Londonderry.
A fourteenth protestor died as a result of injuries sustained on the same day.
JUSTICE FOR NORTHERN IRELAND
Relatives of the Catholic demonstrators shot to death by British troops on Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday cried tears of joy Tuesday as an epic fact-finding probe ruled that their loved ones were innocent and the soldiers entirely to blame for the 1972 slaughter. The investigation took 12 years and nearly 200 million pounds ($290 million), but the victims’ families and the British, Irish and U.S. governments welcomed the findings as priceless to heal one of the gaping wounds left from Northern Ireland’s four-decade conflict that left 3,700 dead. Thousands of residents of Londonderry – a predominantly Catholic city long synonymous with Britain’s major mass killing from the Northern Ireland conflict – gathered outside the city hall to watch the verdict come in, followed by a lengthy apology from Prime Minister David Cameron in London that moved many locals long distrustful of British leaders. The probe found that soldiers opened fire without justification at unarmed, fleeing civilians and lied about it for decades, refuting an initial British investigation that branded the demonstrators as Irish Republican Army bombers and gunmen.Cameron, who was just 5 years old when the attack occurred, said it was “both unjustified and unjustifiable.”
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