By Amanda Ferguson
BELFAST (Reuters) – Northern Ireland’s High Court on Wednesday quashed prosecutors’ decision to discontinue a murder case against the only British soldier charged over the “Bloody Sunday” killings of 13 unarmed Catholic civil rights marchers in 1972.
The court said it should be for a trial judge to rule on the issue of admissibility of evidence, and directed the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to reconsider its decision.
The unnamed soldier, dubbed “Soldier F”, was charged in 2019 with the murders of two men and attempted murders of five others. The evidence was deemed insufficient to charge 16 other former soldiers.
Last June, the PPS said it decided not to proceed after considering the impact of a court ruling that evidence relied upon in the prosecution of two former soldiers in a separate 1972 killing was inadmissible because of how it was obtained.
There was no longer a reasonable prospect of key evidence being ruled admissible and without that the test for prosecution was no longer considered met, prosecutors said at the time.
The High Court ruled on Wednesday the rationale for the change of mind by the PPS was not sustainable. “It follows that the matter should remain with the PPS to reconsider the decision,” it said.
The court upheld a PPS decision not to prosecute soldiers for the deaths of five other civilians killed on Bloody Sunday on the basis that the soldiers’ evidence was obtained by compulsion.
(Writing by Graham Fahy; Editing by Alex Richardson and Mark Heinrich)