Bloody Sunday murder investigation to start

Fri, Jul 6, 2012, 01:00

POLICE IN the North are to begin a murder investigation into the shooting dead of 14 people by British soldiers on Bloody Sunday in Derry 40 years ago, it was announced yesterday.

The major murder inquiry could take up to four years and will involve up to 30 police, the PSNI said in a statement.

The announcement comes after the North’s Public Prosecution Service and the PSNI reviewed the findings of the Saville inquiry, which found that all those shot or injured were innocent.

Lord Saville’s 5,000-page report was deeply critical of the British paratroopers deployed in Derry that day and of the orders given by their commanding officer.

The report, published in 2010 after 12 years and a cost of some £200 million, found that unjustified firing by British soldiers caused the deaths, and that none of the dead had posed a threat.

It investigated events at the Bogside on January 30th, 1972, when parachute regiment troops opened fire during a civil rights march and 13 people died. Another died later from injuries. PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott yesterday explained why the investigation would take up to four years. “It’s a lengthy investigation. This has to be done to modern standards of murder investigation which is both resource-intensive and prolonged,” he said.

“We understand fully our legal obligations and are committed to doing this.”

However, Mr Baggott said he would first need to consult the North’s policing board. “I need to bring a conversation with the policing board in October in order to work through the implications and the consequences,” he said.

Yesterday John Kelly, whose brother Michael (17) was one of the victims, hoped that prosection would come soon. The Saville report was “totally damning” of the troops and found that they “unjustifiably murdered our people”, he told UTV news.

“It shouldn’t take much longer to come to the point where these guys should be prosecuted for what they did,” he said.

MLA Gerry Kelly told UTV news that he wanted to know when the police would move ahead with the investigation.

“This is a huge issue. People have waited a long time for justice in terms of this,” he said yesterday.

The report found that all those shot dead or injured on Bloody Sunday were innocent. It found that firing by British soldiers caused the deaths of 14 people.

The report also found that none of the soldiers fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks.

No warning had been given to any civilians before the soldiers opened fire, it said.

It rejected the accounts of soldiers and said they had “knowingly put forward false accounts”.

Five soldiers fired in the belief that no one in the area they were firing at posed a threat, it found. Two fired in the belief they might have identified gunmen, but without being certain.

The report also found that soldiers went into the Bogside due to an order by Col Derek Wilford which should not have been given. – (Additional reporting: PA)