By DANICA KIRKA Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — A former British soldier is set to be prosecuted in connection with the deaths of two civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland 47 years ago, part of an incident known as Bloody Sunday, prosecutors said Thursday.
The former soldier, identified as soldier “F,” was a member of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment sent to the protest in Londonderry on Jan. 30, 1972. The veteran will face prosecution for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.
Sixteen other soldiers under investigation will not face prosecution in the shootings, which took place at the height of the unrest in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles.
The charges follow a decade-long investigation that concluded soldiers killed 13 unarmed demonstrators protesting Britain’s detention of suspected Irish nationalists. But the results of the inquiry that concluded in 2010 could not be used in any prosecution, and Thursday’s charges resulted from a separate police investigation into the incident.
“I wish to clearly state that where a decision has been reached not to prosecute, that this is in no way diminishes any finding by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured were not posing a threat to any of the soldiers,” Stephen Herron, the director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland, said as he announced the charges. “We recognize the deep disappointment felt by many of those we met with today.”
The victims’ families have called for justice, while supporters of the soldiers say it is unfair for them to face charges decades after the events.