The Dead Cannot Cry Out For Justice, It Is the Duty of the Living To Do So For Them
"The announcement that only one soldier is to face charges in relation to the actions of the Parachute Regiment on Bloody Sunday is farcical. I don't expect this to lead to a conviction and, if there is a conviction, I don't expect this to result in any prison time. As with the inquests into the Birmingham and Guildford bombings, this exercise is designed to deflect attention. There has been no serious attempt, in any of these cases, to uncover the truth, nor to seek justice for the victims."
Paddy Hill (Birmingham 6 / MOJO)
If the soldier is brought back to Northern Ireland to stand trial. It is more than likely that he will be tried in a Diplock court, a non-jury trial heard by a single judge. MOJUK stands strongly against Diplock trials. Diplock courts, in which serious criminal cases connected with the Troubles are tried by a single judge sitting without a jury, have been in operation since 1973. It soon became clear as the trials began, that defendants were treated unfairly, prosecutors had a field day with the way they presented evidence and judges bending over backwards to accept what was put before them. Many of the convictions under the Diplock court have been overturned as Miscarriages of Justice.
John O MOJUK
“The British state has a long and dishonourable tradition of denying its wrongs and, when that becomes unsustainable, delaying facing the issue for as long as possible. The passage of so many years has inevitably had its impact upon the process of justice – witnesses and soldiers present on Bloody Sunday have died, as have some of the bereaved”. Relatives are profoundly disappointed that only one person is to be charged, despite their relief that there are charges at all, and will probably challenge the decision not to pursue other cases.Their distress and anger has been fuelled by the carelessness, ignorance and crassness of British ministers.
"We need to think of miscarriages of justice both in terms of the wrongful conviction and/or imprisonment of the innocent and the failure of the State to bring to justice and hold to account powerful actors who act with impunity for the crimes and harms that they cause. The idea that a single soldier is (only potentially at this stage) criminally responsible for the Bloody Sunday killings is insulting, serving to compound the sense of loss, injustice and psychological torture of the families who have fought for almost half a century for justice for their loved ones. One thing is certain, the struggle for justice for ALL of the Bloody Sunday victims will neither be appeased or suppressed, even if "Soldier F" is convicted."
Dr Michael Naughton Reader in Sociology and Law
Statement from the families of some of those who lost their lives on Bloody Sunday following the announcement that one soldier is to be prosecuted over the events in 1972.
"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity", said Nelson Mandela. We have walked a long journey since our fathers and brothers were brutally slaughtered on the streets of Derry on Bloody Sunday. Over that passage of time all of the parents of the deceased have died. We are here to take their place. Bloody Sunday was not just a wanton act carried out by a trained army against defenceless civil rights activists. It also created a deep legacy of hurt and injustice and deepened and prolonged a bloody conflict unimaginable even in those dark winter days of 1972. The full cost of Bloody Sunday cannot be measured just in terms of those who suffered that day but must also be measured in terms of those who suffered because of that terrible day.
We have just been informed of the series of charges: We, the families of those murdered and wounded in Derry on Bloody Sunday, today heard the decision by the PPS to charge just one British paratrooper for his murderous actions on 30 January 1972. This announcement is vindication of our decades-long campaign to clear the names of our loved ones and to bring those responsible for their deaths and injuries to justice. When the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign was launched in 1992 we had three clear demands – to have the Widgery whitewash overturned and replaced by an independent inquiry; to gain a formal acknowledgement of the innocence of all our loved ones, and to prosecute those responsible. With today's news, we now achieve our third aim.
However, we have also faced the disappointing news that in some cases there will not be prosecutions, and we are mindful of those families who received that news today. We would like to remind everyone that no prosecution, or if it comes to it, no conviction, does not mean not guilty. It does not mean that no crime was committed. It does not mean that those soldiers acted "in a dignified and appropriate way. It simply means that if these crimes had been investigated properly when they happened, and evidence gathered at the time, then the outcome would have been different.
We note the Saville Report's findings on the actions of soldiers that day, that all the casualties were either "the intended targets of the soldiers or the result of shots fired indiscriminately at people"; that no soldiers "fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks"; that no soldiers fired "in a state of fear or panic" and that soldiers opened fire "either in the belief that no-one in the areas towards which they respectively fired was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury, or not caring whether or not anyone there was posing such a threat". These are not the sort of comments levelled at innocent people.
The passage of time has made charges difficult in this case, and in other cases. But the passage of time should not be used as a form of blanket immunity to block proper investigations. Everyone deserves justice, including those whose loved ones were murdered by the British state. There can be no statute of limitations used to deny justice, no new laws to protect state killers. But, for us here today, it is important to point out that justice for one family is justice for all of us. We stand in full solidarity with those of us whose loved-one's death or injury has not been included in the announcement of prosecutions. We also stand in complete solidarity with the hundreds of families who have had to endure decades without an inquest, without a criminal investigation and who have been left to struggle for their basic human right to justice. We hope our campaign continues to be an inspiration to them.
Today's decision, although 47 years overdue, was necessary if we are to uphold the rule of law and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes. However, we also say that the scope of the new police investigation was not wide enough, and we assert that the repeated failure to properly investigate the actions of those who planted nail bombs on the body of my uncle, 17-year-old Gerald Donaghey is unacceptable. The Saville Report left a stain on Gerald's innocence that this investigation could have removed, but it did not do so. We repeat our call for this injustice to be addressed. And while we as a group of families and individuals may have differing views on whether or not the soldiers who carried out the shootings should face jail, or how long they should spend in jail, we are all agreed that they should face the due process of the law. And they should do so in public. The very few British soldiers that were charged during the conflict here were named, and the same should apply to those being charged now. Killers should not benefit from anonymity.
We maintain that key individuals in the army, in politics and beyond, should also be held to account for their actions on that day and afterwards. This affront must also be rectified if justice is to be truly done, and seen to be done. If the police officer in charge on the day of the Hillsborough tragedy can face prosecution then so too can those who were in charge on Bloody Sunday. There cannot be one law for the military and political elite and one law for others.
Finally, there should be no further delay in dealing with the outstanding demand of the families of Bloody Sunday and the people of Derry. We call on all of those who will administer the next stage to move with all speed to bring this to a conclusion. We call on all involved to cooperate fully and not indulge in any more delaying tactics. We call on the Crown Prosecution Service to complete its process and reach a decision on whether or not anyone is to be charged with perjury in relation to their evidence to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry.
We call on the Attorney General to investigate recent comments about these prosecutions made by prominent politicians, including the British Minister of Defence, and decide if they too broke the law. If they have, they should be charged. They cannot attempt to interfere in a judicial process just because they don't like it, or because their voters don't like it.
The dead cannot cry out for justice, it is the duty of the living to do so for them.
We have cried out for them for many years, and now we have succeeded for them.
Do not deny us justice any longer.
Statement from Bloody Sunday families, Thursday 14th March 2019
Guardian View on the Bloody Sunday Prosecution: Late But Necessary
It is now approaching half a century since Bloody Sunday, when British troops fired on civil rights demonstrators in Derry. The killings not only left families distraught but, as the brother of one victim observed on Thursday, deepened and widened the conflict in Northern Ireland. The Widgery tribunal of the same year compounded anger. It took more than 25 years, and the peace process, for the British government to commission another inquiry. In 2010 Lord Saville finally delivered his devastating report. A lengthy police inquiry followed.
Now one former paratrooper is to stand trial for the murder of two men, and attempted murder of four more. Prosecutors concluded that there was insufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of convicting other suspects on similar charges, though some may yet face perjury cases.
The British state has a long and dishonourable tradition of denying its wrongs and, when that becomes unsustainable, delaying facing the issue for as long as possible. The passage of so many years has inevitably had its impact upon the process of justice – witnesses and soldiers present on Bloody Sunday have died, as have some of the bereaved. Relatives are profoundly disappointed that only one person is to be charged, despite their relief that there are charges at all, and will probably challenge the decision not to pursue other cases.
Their distress and anger has been fuelled by the carelessness, ignorance and crassness of British ministers – all the more alarming given the stresses that Brexit imposes upon a hard-won peace. Last week the Northern Ireland secretary, Karen Bradley, had to apologise for saying killings by security forces were "not crimes" and were carried out by people "fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way".
The defence secretary's response to this prosecution has been insensitive in the extreme. Gavin Williamson made no mention of the victims or families in his statement. He went on to say that the government is working on safeguards to ensure the armed forces are not unfairly treated and will "urgently reform the system for dealing with legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution." A 10-year statute of limitations has been mooted.
The implications with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan are obvious. So is the message it would send to personnel in operations yet to come. That the state upholds the law, and especially that it addresses its own breaches, is not less but more important in highly charged contexts or full-scale conflicts. If it fails to do so promptly and transparently, it must address that too. To tackle old wrongs helps to rebuild trust and strengthen communities today. It also prevents future wrongs by reminding troops and those who command them of their responsibilities. This prosecution is both important and necessary.
Bloody Sunday: Defence Secretary Gavin Willamson Sparks Outrage
Politicians 'cannot attempt to interfere in a judicial process just because they don't like it, or because their voters don't like it.'
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson has provoked condemnation from relatives and calls for an investigation after being accused of making "grossly inappropriate" comments about whether former soldiers should face prosecutions over their actions on Bloody Sunday. Relatives of some of the 13 people who were killed on Bloody Sunday have called upon the attorney general to investigate whether Mr Williamson interfered in the judicial process with remarks made six days before the decision was taken to prosecute "Soldier F" for two murders. Mr Williamson was also accused of insensitivity after his official statement, issued minutes after the decision to prosecute "Soldier F" was announced, made no mention of the 13 who died in the January 1972 shootings. Instead, Mr Williamson confirmed the Ministry of Defence would pay Soldier F's legal costs and added: "The MoD is working [on] a new package of safeguards … The government will urgently reform the system for legacy issues. Our serving and former personnel cannot live in constant fear of prosecution."
Labour called this statement "grossly inappropriate", while others contrasted the ex-fireplace salesman's reaction with that of a former British soldier who grew up in Northern Ireland and won the military cross in Afghanistan. While Mr Williamson made no mention of those who died or their loved ones, Doug Beattie MC, now an Ulster Unionist Party member of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly, wrote: "There are no winners here. Just victims. It's important to remember their families today." As the bereaved families expressed "terrible disappointment" that only one out of 17 ex-soldiers investigated would face prosecution, John Kelly, who saw his 17-year-old brother Michael die on Bloody Sunday, criticised Mr Williamson for his earlier comments about "spurious prosecutions"
Six days before Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) was due to give its decision on the Bloody Sunday soldiers, Mr Williamson had told the BBC's Nick Robinson: "We need to give protections to service personnel to ensure we don't have spurious prosecutions. "No-one in the armed forces wants to be above the law, but what we did need to do is ensure that they do have the protection so that they don't feel under threat. It's not just about Northern Ireland, but about Iraq and Afghanistan, conflicts before that and in the future." Asked whether the new protections would make a difference to the expected Bloody Sunday prosecutions, Mr Williamson had replied: "Sadly, I don't think that will come in time."
Speaking at the Guildhall in Derry on Thursday, Mr Kelly said the attorney general should now decide if Mr Williamson or other politicians have broken the law. Mr Kelly said: "If they have, they should be charged. They cannot attempt to interfere in a judicial process just because they don't like it, or because their voters don't like it." Mr Williamson faced further criticism over the statement he made after the PPS decision was announced.
Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Tony Lloyd said it was "grossly inappropriate" to issue a statement focusing on soldiers' rights minutes after bereaved families learned that one ex-paratrooper would be prosecuted for murder and 16 others would face no action. Social media users also contrasted Mr Williamson's approach with that of former prime minister David Cameron. In 2010, after the Saville Inquiry found no soldiers fired in response to attacks, no casualties were posing a threat, and some were clearly fleeing or going to help others who were hit, Mr Cameron apologised on the government's behalf, calling the army's actions on the day "unjustifiable."
One Twitter user wrote of Mr Williamson: "He does realise the soldier has been charged with murder, not bunking off guard duty or the like. murder! Incredible statement, but in all honesty not unexpected." Adam Lusher,Rob Merrick, Indpendent
Dennis Hutchings Begins Appeal Against Diplock Non-Jury Trial
Former soldier Dennis Hutchings has begun his appeal to the Supreme Court against a decision to try him in a Diplock Court. Mr Hutchings is due to be tried for attempted murder in connection with a fatal shooting in NI in 1974.
A Diplock Court is a non-jury trial heard by a judge only. Mr Hutchings, 77, from Cawsand, Cornwall, has denied charges of attempted murder and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm. John Pat Cunningham, 27, who had learning difficulties, was shot in the back as he ran away from an Army patrol near Benburb, County Tyrone, in 1974. Mr Hutchings has made the case it was never his intention to kill or injure Mr Cunningham, but that he was firing warning shots to get him to stop.
Supporters from campaign group Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans clapped and cheered as the ex-soldier arrived at the court in London on Thursday morning. Mr Hutchings thanked the supporters and said: "Victory for veterans, that's what we want." The former corporal-major in the Life Guards said he was "a bit nervous, obviously, although I don't think we will get a decision today". He said he was "reasonably confident" he would win his case, but added: "I just don't trust the system anymore."
Diplock court? The non-jury system was named after Lord Diplock, a former senior judge and Law Lord. During the height of the Troubles, he chaired a commission that examined proposed changes in the administration of justice in an attempt to deal with terrorist offences.
The commission published its report in December 1972 and non-jury courts were introduced the following year. The introduction of Diplock courts was opposed by civil liberty organisations and both nationalists and republicans. At their peak, more than 300 trials per year were held without a jury.
The government technically abolished the old Diplock courts in 2007.
However, the government gave the director of public prosecutions temporary power to decide that exceptional cases should be tried without a jury if he believed there was still a risk of jurors being intimidated.
In court Mr Hutching's lawyer argued that in order to be subject to a non-jury
trial: "The offence must have occurred due to political or religious hostility (directly or indirectly) and that cannot apply to the security services who were there to uphold law and order and so were not engaging in any such acts (directly or indirectly)."
A lawyer for the NI director of public prosecutions said Mr Hutchings' contention that the shooting did not relate to "religious or political hostility" effectively "ignores the reality of the situation which prevailed in Northern Ireland in 1974".
The Supreme Court reserved its decision.