Bloody Sunday hearing delayed

 

The Saville inquiry, which was set up by the British government to reinvestigate the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry in January 1972, has announced that the starting date for the hearing of oral evidence has been put back.

The hearing was initially to start last month. It was postponed until February, but has now been postponed again with no date fixed.

A spokesman for the inquiry said the decision was taken mainly because the British Ministry of Defence was now able to identify a list of 3,000 British soldiers who were in Derry when 14 men were shot dead during a civil rights march in the Bogside.

At a preliminary hearing in Derry Guildhall last July the inquiry chairman, Lord Saville of Newdigate, criticised the MoD's failure to trace the whereabouts of 20 soldiers who were in the vicinity of the Bogside killings and who are currently in receipt of British army pensions. He said the inquiry would consider issuing subpoenas against the appropriate pensions agency which held the relevant names and addresses.

"In July the Ministry of Defence reported that only 10 soldiers had come forward as potential witnesses," the inquiry spokesman said yesterday. "The ministry provided details of almost 100 other soldiers during August and September, and the inquiry had been making good progress in tracing the majority of those concerned.

"Early this month the ministry reported that they had now developed a new means of identifying a list of 3,000 soldiers who were likely to have been in Londonderry at that time." This list has not yet been received, he said, but the inquiry will need time to consider whom to trace and take steps to do so.

The spokesman added that last July all interested parties were asked to submit relevant material promptly. Solicitors for the victims' families had submitted their first tranche of material last week.