Bloody Sunday: Soldiers face questions in police murder investigation

  • 20 December 2012

Soldiers involved in Bloody Sunday are to be questioned by police as part of a murder investigation into those who died in Londonderry in 1972.

The families of those who were killed on Bloody Sunday met with senior officers on Thursday.

They were told the police investigation is under way.

Thirteen people died when soldiers opened fire during a civil rights march. A fourteenth person later died from his injuries.

In July, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said it would launch an investigation into the deaths.

Following a 12-year inquiry, Lord Saville published his report into the killings in June 2010.

In response to the report, Prime Minister David Cameron apologised to the families and described the killings as "unjustified and unjustifiable".

A team of 15 police officers will carry out the investigation.

Police said in July that it was expected to take at least four years.

Review

The Saville Report found the Army had fired the first shots on Bloody Sunday and were to blame for what happened.

The PSNI and Public Prosecution Service subsequently reviewed the findings of the Saville inquiry and announced their plans to hold an investigation in July 2012, but did not give a date on when it would begin.

Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie met with some of the families after they expressed concerns about the lack of progress in the investigation.

"We were able to give an update on the progress of the investigation, the resources we're putting into it and how we're going to liaise with the families during it and that's very important," she said.

Speaking after the meeting, John Kelly whose brother was killed on Bloody Sunday, said he was reassured by what he heard from Deputy Chief Constable Gillespie and was told that they would be regularly updated.

"I thought it was a very positive meeting, all the questions we asked we got answers to," he said.

"More than just the soldiers should be interviewed over this process, but the soldiers are the important factor - they are the people who committed the atrocity.

"Rightly so they are going to be brought in and interviewed about their actions that day."

Ms Gillespie said the investigation would "start in earnest" in the new year but told the families that much of the "preparatory work" had already been done.

"We've now appointed a full-time, dedicated, senior investigating officer, who's an experienced senior detective who will lead the criminal investigation and we're putting full-time dedicated resources in support of him to take forward that investigation," she said.

She said she did not know how long it would take.

Image caption A team of 15 detectives will investigate the murders of 13 civilians on Bloody Sunday

"We will go where the evidence takes us," she said.

In a statement, police said that for the investigation to be as "comprehensive and effective" as possible, they would be asking witnesses who gave evidence to the Saville inquiry to make statements to detectives.

'Complex'

"This is because police are precluded from using Saville testimony in a criminal investigation. Details on how this process will be facilitated will be made available in the near future," the statement said.

"Police have also undertaken to provide updates to surviving victims and all the families who lost relatives on Bloody Sunday through the course of the investigation which will be lengthy and complex."

Bloody Sunday occurred on 30 January 1972 - a civil rights demonstration through the streets of Derry in the north-west of Northern Ireland ended with the shooting dead of 13 civilians by the British Army.

Fourteen others were wounded.

The Saville Inquiry cost £195m and was the longest-running and most expensive inquiry in British history.

Lord Saville was appointed in 1998 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair to look into the events of Bloody Sunday.

It followed an earlier official inquiry in 1972, led by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Widgery, which was described as a "whitewash" by the families of the victims and their supporters.

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