British soldier to face murder trial over Northern Ireland’s ‘Bloody Sunday’

BELFAST (Reuters) – The only British soldier charged over the “Bloody Sunday” killings of 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers in 1972 will stand trial for murder, a Northern Irish court ruled on Thursday.

The unnamed soldier, dubbed “Soldier F”, was charged in 2019 with the murders of two men and attempted murder of five others, but prosecutors dropped the case in 2021 after a similar trial collapsed over issues regarding the admissibility of evidence.

Northern Ireland’s High Court quashed that decision last year and lawyers representing the victims’ families said the soldier had been returned to stand trial on the murder and attempted murder charges.

Soldiers from Britain’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on the march in the mainly Irish nationalist city of Londonderry, killing 13 people and wounding 14 others, one of whom died later.

The British government apologised for the “unjustified and unjustifiable” killings in 2010 after a judicial inquiry found that the victims were innocent and had posed no threat to the military.

Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) deemed the evidence insufficient in 2019 to charge 16 other former soldiers.

“Bloody Sunday” was the worst single shooting incident of “The Troubles”, three decades of sectarian violence involving nationalists seeking a united Ireland, pro-British unionists wanting to remain part of the United Kingdom and British forces.

(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson, writing by Padraic Halpin, editing by Andrew Cawthorne)