Soldier denies murder cover-up

A former paratrooper today denied being involved in a conspiracy to cover up the murder of innocent civilians on Bloody Sunday.

A former paratrooper today denied being involved in a conspiracy to cover up the murder of innocent civilians on Bloody Sunday.

Soldier F, who was a lance corporal in Anti-Tank Platoon, told the Saville Inquiry he did not remember killing a teenager at a barricade or firing his weapon in Derry’s Glenfada Park where a number of people were shot and wounded.

About 200 relatives of the victims were in London today to hear Soldier F give his evidence at the Central Hall in Westminster.

Counsel for the Inquiry Christopher Clarke QC put it to him that his platoon had become aware soon after the shooting had stopped that six people had been killed and seven wounded by paras in the region of Glenfada Park.

“Is the reason why a true account fitting the known facts has never been given by the Anti-Tank Platoon is that a true account would reveal that innocent civilians had been murdered or unlawfully killed and unlawfully wounded?” he asked.

Soldier F replied: “No”.

In his statement to the Widgery Tribunal, held soon after Bloody Sunday, Soldier F described shooting a man who was firing with a pistol to the south of Rossville Flats.

He was shown photographs of two men, Bernard McGuigan and Patrick Doherty who died in this area. Another two, Paddy Campbell and Danny Magowan were wounded.

Christopher Clarke asked him: “Are you aware that you are the only soldier who admits firing shots into or towards the area to the south of these blocks of the Rossville Flats?

He replied: “No, I was not aware.”

The lawyer added: “Were there other soldiers who fired from the corner of Glenfada Park from which you fired?

He replied: “Not to my knowledge.”

Asked if he killed either Mr McGuigan or Mr Doherty he said “I am not sure”.

Mr Clarke pointed out that no soldier had given an explanation in the past 30 years how these two men were killed.

“It must follow, must it not, as appears overwhelmingly likely, these two were killed and the other two were wounded by shots fired by soldiers, that there has been a cover-up of their deaths and woundings?” he added.

Soldier F replied: “Not as I am aware of, no.”

The Inquiry is investigating the events of January 30, 1972 when 13 civilians were shot dead in the Bogside area of Derry.

During the Widgery Inquiry, held shortly after the killings, it emerged that a bullet from Lance Corporal F’s rifle was forensically linked to the killing of 17-year-old Michael Kelly, who was shot dead at the rubble barricade in Rossville Street.

Soldier F today said he did not remember shooting Mr Kelly or anyone else and recalled practically nothing about what happened on that day.

“I do not recall firing shots at anyone behind or around the barricade, although I am aware that a bullet from my weapon killed someone who I understand was at the barricade.”

In his evidence to Lord Widgery, Soldier F said he shot three people that day.

He added that he fired a total of 13 live rounds. He claimed he shot a nailbomber at the barricade, another nailbomber in Glenfada Park North and a gunman at Rossville Flats.

Mr Clarke, during a lengthy cross examination, asked Soldier F why he shot Mr Kelly from his position at a wall at Kells Walk.

Soldier F referred him to his statement given to the Royal Military Police at the time where he said he shot a man throwing a nail bomb or attempting to throw a nail bomb.

Mr Clarke added: “No other soldier in the Anti-Tank Platoon admitted firing towards the barricade from this wall or indeed from any other place but we know that three young men died at the barricade in addition to Michael Kelly.

“Their names are John Young, Michael McDaid and William Nash and their bodies were picked up by a Pig (military vehicle) of the Mortar Platoon.

“Can you offer any explanation as to how it comes about that on the accounts given by Anti-Tank Platoon to Lord Widgery and indeed to this tribunal there is no explanation for how these people died?”

Soldier F said he could give no explanation.

Turning to the events which occurred when members of Anti-Tank Platoon moved into Glenfada Park North, Soldier F said: “I can member firing my weapon but I do not know when, where or why I fired it.”

He said he had no recollection of 29 shots being fired in Glenfada Park and denied killing William McKinney and James Wray.

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