Bloody Sunday: Soldier F appears in court for first time

Bloody Sunday: Soldier F appears in court for first time

22 minutes agoBy Julian O’Neill, BBC News NI crime and justice correspondentBBCThirteen people were shot dead by the British Army on Bloody Sunday

The former paratrooper known as Soldier F has appeared in a court for the first time since being charged with murders on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972.

His lawyers are mounting a challenge to have the case against him dismissed ahead of his trial.

Until today, he had not attended any hearings in person since being charged in 2019.

Soldier F is accused of two murders and five attempted murders.

Relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday, and their supporters, were in court for his attendance.

Thirteen people were shot dead when the Army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on a civil rights march in Londonderry.

A large floor-to-ceiling curtain screened a corner of the courtroom from public view.

Soldier F is accused of murdering William McKinney and James Wray when soldiers opened fire on civil rights’ demonstrators on 30 January 1972.

His lawyer told a hearing in Belfast there was an “insufficiency of evidence” to put him on trial.

At the start of proceedings, the judge ruled that an order granting the veteran anonymity should remain in place. The hearing is continuing.

At a previous hearing in Derry in December to decide whether the case would proceed a judge said the evidence was strong enough to send the soldier for trial at the Crown Court in Belfast.

Who is Soldier F?

A former British soldier who served with the Army’s Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland during the TroublesHe cannot be named due to an interim court order granting his anonymitySoldier F is being prosecuted for the murders of William McKinney and James Wray on Bloody SundayHe also faces charges of attempting to murder Patrick O’Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon, Michael Quinn and an unknown person on the same dateSoldier F is accused of murdering James Wray and William McKinney

The decision on whether to prosecute Soldier F involved several legal challenges and U-turns.

Having weighed up 125,000 pages of material, prosecutors said in March 2019 that they would send Soldier F to trial for the murders of Mr Wray and Mr McKinney, as well as several attempted murders.

However, in 2021, prosecutors dropped the case after the collapse of the trial of two other Army veterans who were accused of another Troubles-era killing.

At the time, the families of the Bloody Sunday victims said the decision was a “damning indictment of the British justice system” – their legal challenge against the decision was successful.

The court then rejected an attempt by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to have its own appeal referred to the Supreme Court.

Prosecutors subsequently announced that they had decided to resume the prosecution in September 2022.

He was returned for trial in December 2023 but no trial date has been given.

What happened on Bloody Sunday?

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