Bloody Sunday barrister calls for charges against soldiers

Prosecutors were today urged to consider bringing charges against soldiers accused of lying to Mark Saville's inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings.

Prosecutors were today urged to consider bringing charges against soldiers accused of lying to Mark Saville's inquiry into the Bloody Sunday killings.

Michael Mansfield QC, who represented the families of some of the victims, said the matter was so serious that the authorities should consider bringing charges of perjury.

In his report, published yesterday, Saville concluded that some members of the Parachute Regiment "knowingly put forward false accounts" to justify opening fire on unarmed protesters.

Mr Mansfield said that while witnesses to the inquiry were given immunity from prosecution if they incriminated themselves in evidence, that did not cover false testimony.

"I do think, given the strength and clarity of the conclusions, where invented stories or falsehoods were told, that the Director of Public Prosecutions, either here in Northern Ireland or in London, should consider whether it is so serious - because the rule of law has been flagrantly breached on this occasion by a number of soldiers on a number of UK citizens - that consideration should be given to a prosecution," he told the BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme.

Thirteen people were killed when members of 1 Para opened fire on a civil rights march in Derry on Sunday January 30, 1972 in one of the most notorious events of the Northern Ireland Troubles. A 14th died later of his injuries.

In his scathing report, Saville said they had been victims of "unjustifiable firing" by the paras.

He rejected claims the victims had been armed with guns and bombs and said that some had been shot as they lay wounded or were trying to tend to the dying.

The report said none of the dead posed a threat and the actions of the soldiers were totally without justification.

In 1998 the then prime minister Tony Blair commissioned Saville to carry out a fresh inquiry.

The move followed a lengthy campaign by bereaved relatives, angry that official records still contained the Widgery Report which in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday had controversially cleared the soldiers of blame and accused the victims of being armed.

Saville's findings, delivered after 12 years of deliberations at a cost of nearly £200m (€240.5m), effectively turned Widgery on its head by exonerating the dead and injured, and delivering a withering account of events that showed soldiers lied about their actions and falsely claimed to have come under attack.

The Saville Report detailed the grim circumstances of each of the deaths, including how Alexander Nash was shot and injured as he tended to his dead or dying son, 19-year-old William.

It recounts how some victims were shot in the back, others were killed as they lay wounded, and some soldiers fired without believing they were at risk, or simply not caring if their targets posed a threat.

The report added: "Despite the contrary evidence given by soldiers, we have concluded that none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers. No one threw or threatened to throw a nail or petrol bomb at the soldiers on Bloody Sunday."

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