The case against Soldier F, the former British soldier charged with murder on Bloody Sunday, has resumed in Derry.
The city’s magistrate’s court heard submissions on Friday that hearsay evidence linking the former member of the Parachute Regiment to deaths in Glenfada Park should be admitted.
Soldier F is charged with the murder of Jim Wray and William McKinney as well as five attempted murders on Bloody Sunday in Derry on January 30th, 1972.
Thirteen people died when members of the British army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on anti-internment marchers in Derry’s Bogside. A 14th person died later.
The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced last year it would recommence proceedings against Soldier F.
It dropped the case following the collapse of a separate trial against two other former soldiers, but this decision was overruled by the High Court following a legal challenge taken by the relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday.
The prosecution of Soldier F had reached the committal stage at Derry Magistrate’s Court at the time of its suspension.
The case was reactivated in September 2022, and began again in Derry in January but proceedings could not be reported for legal reasons. It was subsequently adjourned until Friday.
At the hearing in front of District Judge Ted Magill a prosecution barrister argued that the issue of hearsay evidence should be left to any trial judge and not decided upon at this stage.
He said there was case law that hearsay evidence should be admissible “if it is in the interests of justice.”
The prosecution argued that in this case, while statements made by other soldiers could not be used against them, their evidence could be used as hearsay against F.
The hearing was told that in their statements to Widgery both Soldiers G and H gave clear evidence that “F opened fire on civilians.”
Soldier G said he was working as a pair with Soldier F and after entering Glenfada Park he claimed he saw gunmen with rifles.
He said he fired three shots and “F fired at the same time.”
The barrister said this was “a clear statement F fired at some of the civilians.”
In his evidence to Widgery, the discredited first inquiry into Bloody Sunday, Soldier H said “F was firing beside me and I saw both men fall.”
As regards Soldier H, the hearing was told that he said Soldiers F and G were in front of him entering Glenfada Park and he saw F firing.
The hearing was told that Soldier G was dead but that Soldier H was still alive but there was little point in trying to compel him to give evidence.
The prosecution barrister said that Soldier H would in all likelihood refuse to give evidence or would not give truthful evidence on the basis he could incriminate herself.
He said that if he did give evidence he would have to be given “a self-incrimination warning.”
The hearing was told “it is unrealistic and fanciful to think he would rely on any other course of action.”
The court heard that in this case the hearsay evidence had passed “interest of justice gateway” and Judge Magill was urged not to make a ruling better left to a trial judge as to what was admissible and what not.
The prosecution barrister said there were “multiple accounts” from Soldiers G and H linking F to the shooting in Glenfada Park.
Judge Magill said that the defence would obviously need time to consider these submissions and adjourned the hearing until June 7th.