A soldier was accused of lying today about being an eye witness as part of an attempt to cover up the Bloody Sunday shootings.
Soldier 147 was accused of working with two other soldiers to prepare statements to an incident which he “could not conceivably have seen”.
The former private paratrooper denied the allegations as he gave evidence to the Saville Inquiry in London, which is investigating the incident in Derry on January 30, 1972 when 13 civil rights marchers were shot dead by soldiers. A 14th man died later.
Soldier 147, the 787th witness in the inquiry, told how he was acting as a radio operator for Support Company of the Anti-Tank platoon of the 1st Battalion of the parachute regiment and was close to the Rossville flats on the day of the shootings.
The inquiry was told how in his statement given to the Royal Military Police just days after the incident he said he had seen the outline of a gunman from one of the flat’s windows.
He said two shots came from the second floor window and that he shouted a warning to other soldiers. He said he later saw an “apparently lifeless body” being carried from the flats.
However, Seamus Treacy QC, who is acting for some of the families said the soldier had got together with two other soldiers present that day, 036 and 018 and made up their eye witness accounts.
Mr Treacy said: “What I want to suggest to you is this: What actually happened on the evening of February 4, 1972 is that you, together with 036 and 018, went and, at the request of the RMP, made a statement in which you made yourself an eye witness, something you could not have conceivably seen.”
He later added: “I am suggesting to you that you yourself became in effect an active participant in an attempt to cover up and conceal the massacre that had occurred on January 30, 1972.”
To all the allegations soldier 147 constantly replied “no sir”.
Mr Treacy said the soldier had previously said he was inside his armoured personnel carrier when he claims to have seen the incident in which shots were fired.
He said the soldier then later changed his position claiming to have been outside the vehicle because he would not have been able to see what he claimed from inside.
However, the soldier maintained his original stance that he was inside the vehicle.
The inquiry heard how two other soldiers, soldiers G and F, had returned fire on the man in the window but soldier 147 said he could not recall any return of fire.
Junior counsel for the inquiry, Bilal Rawat asked the soldier how it was possible that he could have missed seeing other soldiers firing shots considering they were so close to him.
The soldier said he could not say how.
When asked, the soldier also said he had no recollections of any members of his platoon using the phrase “getting kills” on the evening before Bloody Sunday as had been implied by a previous soldier, the inquiry heard.
The inquiry, which usually sits at the Guildhall in Derry, is currently hearing the evidence of military witnesses and others in London because of concerns for their safety.
Lord Saville of Newdigate and the Commonwealth Judges accompanying him on the Bloody Sunday inquiry began their work nearly four years ago and are not expected to report back until 2004.