Former British soldiers on trial for 1972 death

Two former British soldiers are to be prosecuted for allegedly murdering an Official IRA commander in the North.

Joe McCann, 24, was shot dead in disputed circumstances in Belfast on April 15, 1972.

Soldier A, now aged 67, and Soldier C, 65, are surviving members of the Parachute Regiment patrol which fired on Mr McCann, prosecutors said.

The UK government said it would support any military personnel affected by the case.

The accused are likely to appear in court next year.

A Public Prosecution Service spokesman said: “Following a careful consideration of all the available evidence it has been decided to prosecute two men for the offence of murder.

“The decision was reached following an objective and impartial application of the test for prosecution that was conducted in accordance with the code for prosecutors and with the benefit of advice from senior counsel.”

Mr McCann had been one of the Official IRA’s most prominent activists in the early days of the Troubles. He believed in creating a socialist Ireland and supported an “Army of the People” involved in social struggle, his family have said.

The veteran of Catholic civil rights protests was shot by an Army patrol in Joy Street in the Markets area of Belfast city centre.

A third member of the unit who fired at Mr McCann died in the intervening years, the PPS said.

The original RUC investigation was conducted in 1972 and a decision, based on the evidence available then, was taken not to prosecute any individual.

The Historical Enquiries Team was established to probe unresolved killings in Northern Ireland and carried out an investigation into Mr McCann’s death in 2012.


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