North’s PPS warns against speculation over Bloody Sunday charges

Daily Telegraph says former British servicemen could soon face murder charges

An armed soldier attacks a protester on Bloody Sunday. Photograph: Frederick Hoare/Central Press/Getty Images

An armed soldier attacks a protester on Bloody Sunday. Photograph: Frederick Hoare/Central Press/Getty Images

 

Prosecutors in Northern Ireland have warned about speculating on imminent prosecution decisions in relation to British soldiers involved in the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings.

Thirteen people were shot dead by British paratroopers when they opened fire on civil rights protesters on the streets of Derry in January 1972. A 14th died four months later in hospital.

The Public Prosecution Service dismissed media reports suggesting knowledge of the likely outcome of its deliberations on the Derry killings. The PPS said second guessing the decisions, which will be formally announced on March 14th, was likely to cause “significant and undue distress” to families bereaved

A murder investigation was launched into the events of Bloody Sunday in 2012. A small of team of senior prosecutors in Northern Ireland is handling the complex and highly sensitive investigation. It is understood special measures have been put in place to ensure their work remains top secret until the Bloody Sunday families are informed of the decisions.

The PPS team is assessing evidence against 17 British Parachute Regiment veterans.

According to Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, prosecutors will meet victims’ families on March 14th before making an announcement on any charges being brought. The former soldiers under investigation over Bloody Sunday are thought to now be in their 60s and 70s.

One of the veterans, a former sergeant who can be identified only as Sergeant O, told the paper: “I am in my late 70s. I am in God’s waiting room. There is not a lot they can do to me. They could put me in jail and at least I’ll get a bed and medical attention.”

A PPS spokeswoman said on Saturday: “This is a wholly speculative article which is likely to cause significant and undue distress to the Bloody Sunday families.

“The PPS is currently making arrangements for the communication of its decisions to all parties on March 14th 2019.

“We will not be providing any information in relation to prosecutorial matters in the intervening period.” – PA