Seven soldiers suspected of killings and other serious crimes on Bloody Sunday have been granted a judicial review over their potential arrests in connection with their involvement during the events in Derry on January 30, 1972.
The soldiers applied for the legal review following last week’s arrest of ‘Lance Corpral J’. The 66-year-old former Paratrooper was arrested in County Antrim last week and held for questioning at a Belfast police station. It is believed he was questioned in relation to the shooting dead of William Nash, John Young and Michael McDaid as well as being quzzed in relation to the wounding of Alexander Nash. He was later released on police bail pending further investigation by the PSNI.
As a result seven other former ex-Para’s instructed their legal counsel to lodge an application for a judicial review at the High Court in London. It is understood these soldiers are soldiers B, N, O, Q, R, U and V. These were the anonymous names applied to the ex-soldiers during the 12 year Saville Inquiry.
Lawyers for the soldiers contended that the motivation behind the arrest of ‘Lance Corporal J’ was “politically motivated” and also followed on from the realisation that if they are charged their anonymity could be put aside. It is also possible that if charged and subsequently convicted that they may not quality for early release under the Good Friday Agreement as it falls outside the timeframe agreed for non-qualification agreed in the 1998 accord.
The seven soldiers also lodged objections to not being given at least 24 hours notice of arrest, whereby they could arrange to present themselves to local police stations for questioning. They have also objected to being transferred to Northern Ireland for police questioning.
This afternoon however it has emerged that the seven soldiers have been granted a judicial review on Thursday, November 26. The hearing will take place before a Divisional Court hearing on that date in London.
It has also emerged that the Chief Constable of the PSNI has also agreed not to undertake the arrest of any of the seven men until the hearing takes place.
Mr Justice Ouseley ordered that families of those killed on Bloody Sunday are not persons “directly affected” by the application as the case concerns the lawfulness of the anticipated arrests, chiefly because the soldiers are willing to be interviewed in England, and because of risks faced in Northern Ireland.
Mickey McKinney, whose bother William was shot dead on Bloody Sunday told the ‘Journal’ that he believes there should be no “preferential treatment given to soldiers.”
He said: “No one gave my brother or any other of the marchers on Bloody Sunday 24 hours notice about what was going to happen to them.”
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ this afternoon he continued: “I am hoping that the police and the Chief Constable continue to do their jobs. At the Bloody Sunday Inquiry the soldiers won every judicial review. These people should be questioned in Northern Ireland because that is where the shootings took place. I hope the same pattern is not developing here again.”
Kate Nash whose bother William was shot dead and whose father Alex was seriously wounded in the effort to goes to his sons aid told the ‘Journal’: “We did expect them to be granted this judicial review. They have been afforded every chance to get away without any prosecutions taking place.
“They have been dodging the law for 43 years and let’s face they have received a great deal of help from the British Government. The Bloody Sunday Inquiry had the powers of the High Court and Lord Saville could have ordered the immediate arrest of these soldiers had he chosen to do so, but he never took the opportunity to have them taken to court.”