Bloody Sunday report 'does not open door for prosecutions'

15th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A lawyer representing British soldiers involved in the Bloody Sunday inquiry Tuesday insisted the report's findings did not open the door for prosecutions.

Lawyer Stephen Pollard also accused senior judge Mark Saville, who led the inquiry into the fatal shootings by British troops of 13 people at a Northern Ireland civil rights march in 1972, of painting an unfair picture.

The British government apologised for the army's actions after the publication of the report Tuesday, which took 12 years to complete at a cost of more than 190 million pounds (275 million dollars, 230 million euros).

It concluded that none of the victims were armed, soldiers gave no warnings before opening fire and that the shootings were a "catastrophe" for Northern Ireland, leading to increased violence in subsequent years.

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service said it was considering whether to prosecute anyone, adding this decision would be taken "as expeditiously as possible" although it gave no date.

But asked whether the report paved the way for British soldiers who were involved in Bloody Sunday to face criminal charges, Pollard replied: "No, it doesn't."

"He cherry picked the evidence," the lawyer said, referring to Saville.

"I think Lord Saville felt under very considerable pressure after 12 years and 191 million pounds to give a report which gave very clear findings even where in truth the evidence didn't support them.

"What he has had to do is adopt the pieces of evidence that fit the theory and abandon those that don't."

Meanwhile the head of the British army, General David Richards, backed Prime Minister David Cameron's apology.

"The report leaves me in no doubt that serious mistakes and failings by officers and soldiers on that terrible day led to the deaths of 13 civilians who did nothing that could have justified their shooting," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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