Bloody Sunday: One soldier to face prosecution

Britain's defence secretary Gavin Williamson made his comments before it was announced that'Soldier F is to face prosecution

Fourteen people were killed when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on a civil rights march in January 1972.

Families hold photographs of the victims of Bloody Sunday and march through the Bogside in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

It was the worst single shooting incident of "the Troubles", although several bomb attacks by rival militant groups claimed higher death tolls, and Thursday's decision will reignite the controversy.

However the available evidence surrounding 18 other suspects - 16 paratroopers and two alleged Official IRA members - who were investigated for charges up to and including murder was insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction, prosecutors decided.

The man, referred to as Soldier F, will be prosecuted for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney, as well as the attempted murders of four other people.

"And all the families probably feel the same way, that what we're trying to achieve is for them (the victims)". Their lawyers said they would challenge in the High Court any prosecutorial decision that did not withstand scrutiny. One former soldier has since died.

The inquiry did not take evidence from civilian witnesses.

Bloody Sunday: One soldier to face prosecution

"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today's decision", Gavin Williamson said in a statement on Thursday.

The letter said a dedicated team has been set up looking at ways to provide appropriate legal protection to serving and former members of the armed forces "where they now face repeated investigations and potential prosecution following events that happened many years ago".

The government-commissioned inquiry, undertaken by Lord Saville, found none of the victims was posing a threat to soldiers when they were shot.

The Bloody Sunday killings caused widespread anger at the time - not least in the United States, where support for the Irish Republican cause runs high - and almost 50 years later the incident remains highly emotive.

The families of the victims have campaigned for decades for the former soldiers to face justice.

The violent conflict between those who sought a united Ireland, mostly Catholics, and those who wanted to maintain the link with Britain, mostly Protestants, lasted from the late 1960s until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Police in the North opened their investigation into the killings after the 2010 Saville Report found that British troops opened fire on Bloody Sunday without issuing a warning.

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