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Who is soldier F? Ex-paratrooper faces murder charges in 1972 for Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland


Anonymous soldier charged with two counts of murder and four attempted murders for the infamous murders

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A former British soldier is set to be prosecuted for the deaths of two civil rights protesters in Derry, Northern Ireland, 47 years ago in an incident known as Bloody Sunday, prosecutors said Thursday .


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But the identity of the former soldier, identified only as Private F, has not yet been revealed.

The veteran will face prosecution for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell.

Sixteen other soldiers under investigation will not be prosecuted in the shooting, which took place at the height of the unrest in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles. Prosecutors say there is not enough evidence to try them.

The charges against Private F follow a ten-year investigation that found soldiers killed 13 unarmed protesters protesting Britain’s detention of suspected Irish nationalists. Some 28 people were shot dead in total.


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But the results of a lengthy investigation that ended in 2010 could not be used in any prosecution, and Thursday’s charges resulted from a separate police investigation into the incident.

In this file photo from January 30, 1972, soldiers hide behind their sandbagged armored cars in Derry, Northern Ireland.
In this file photo from January 30, 1972, soldiers hide behind their sandbagged armored cars in Derry, Northern Ireland. Photo from PA via AP

Who is soldier F?

He joined the 1st Battalion of the famous British Parachute Regiment in 1966 and was Lance Corporal at the time of the January 30, 1972. The Bloody Sunday investigation into the murders, led by Britain’s Lord Saville, granted anonymity to all. military witnesses. involved, but the report makes reference to Private F referred to as “Dave” by other soldiers. They say he is now 70 years old.

Lord Saville’s final report covered some 5,000 pages at a cost of $ 352 million. It had been put in place after an earlier investigation was dismissed as money laundering.


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The Northern Ireland Police Service first launched a murder investigation in 2012, after Lord Saville found all those who died were innocent civilians who had not posed a threat that day , Irish Times reports . Files were then sent to public prosecutors in Northern Ireland in December 2016. In the end, the names of 20 suspects were sent to prosecutors, including 18 ex-soldiers and two suspected IRA officials, but only the Private F was charged.

This leaves 19 suspects not charged and at least 11 murders unaccounted for; another man died a few months after Bloody Sunday and is often referred to as the 14th victim, but Lord Saville’s report determined he did not die from injuries sustained that day. Some of the soldiers allegedly involved also died. Families of the victims have demanded justice, while supporters of the soldiers say it is unfair for them to face charges decades after the events.


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February 8, 1972: Mourning for the relatives of the victims of the Bloody Sunday massacre.
February 8, 1972: Mourning for the relatives of the victims of the Bloody Sunday massacre. Photo by M. Stroud / Express / Getty Images


In 2003, during testimony to the Saville Inquiry, Private F admitted firing 13 shots that day in Derry as civil rights protesters marched into the city center from the Bogside area. . The murders and attempted murders of Private F will be tried to have taken place in the Glenfada Park North and Abbey Park North areas of Derry.

Although a man known as Soldier H was also recognized by Saville as responsible for these same deaths, prosecutors ruled that there was not the same level of evidence against Soldier H, and therefore “no reasonable prospect of conviction “.

At a barricade on nearby Rossville Street, six other protesters were killed. The Irish Times reports that Private F was linked to these deaths, as were other soldiers, but again prosecutors ruled that there was no chance a conviction could be obtained. Prosecutors discovered that there was “no admissible and credible witness evidence that Private F shot at the rubble barricade”, but the body of a victim offered a bullet tied to a gun that the soldier F used.


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Private F has also been linked by Lord Saville to two more deaths and the injury of other protesters in a nearby apartment building, the Times reports, but a co-accused soldier who could have identified Private F is now dead.

In this February 1972 file photo, a building burns down in the Bogside district of Derry, Northern Ireland, following Bloody Sunday.
In this February 1972 file photo, a building burns down in the Bogside district of Derry, Northern Ireland, following Bloody Sunday. Photo by AP Photo / Michel Laurent


Prosecutors, however, determined that there was enough evidence to try Private F on two murders and four attempted murders.

A legal expert told the BBC he expects Private F to be named soon, once the case goes to a preliminary hearing in Northern Ireland.

Joshusa Rozenberg said Private F could claim abuse of process and unfair treatment as a defense because no other soldiers were prosecuted.

His legal costs, as well as social assistance, will be paid by the British government, it has been confirmed.


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“We are indebted to the soldiers who served with courage and distinction to bring peace to Northern Ireland,” said UK Secretary of Defense Gavin Williamson. “The well-being of our former military is of the utmost importance. “

William McKinney’s brother Michael said it was “disappointing” for families whose businesses would not be continued, the bbc reports .

“We are aware of the families who received this news today, and believe me, there are many. For us here today, it is important to stress that justice for a family is justice for all of us, ”he said.

“I want to make it clear that when a decision was made not to prosecute, this in no way diminishes the conclusion of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry that those killed or injured did not pose a threat to any of the soldiers.” , Stephen Herron, said the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland when the charges were announced. “We recognize the deep disappointment felt by many of those we have met today.”



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