Police plan 'Bloody Sunday' investigation

Dec. 20, 2012 at 3:22 PM

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Senior police officers in Northern Ireland met Thursday with relatives of the 14 people killed in 1972 in what became known as "Bloody Sunday."

Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris told the families a new investigation will begin in 2013, the Belfast Telegraph reported. They said it is likely to last four years.

British paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights march in Londonderry's Bogside neighborhood on Jan. 30, 1972. Bullets hit 26 people, killing 13 immediately. One man died of his injuries months later.

Later that year, John Widgery, the lord chief justice of England, released a report that blamed the British troops for conduct that "bordered on the reckless" but found no criminal responsibility. He blamed the organizers of the march, suggesting they had provoked a confrontation.

But in 2010, after a 12-year investigation, another British judge, Mark Saville, concluded the shootings were "unjustified and unjustifiable." The day the report was released, Prime Minister David Cameron told the House of Commons the soldiers fired on unarmed civilians, including some who were fleeing and apologized on behalf of the government for the killings.

The investigation in Northern Ireland could lead to prosecutions of the soldiers involved or those who commanded them.

The PSNI is encouraging witnesses who testified to the Saville Inquiry to make official police statements. Evidence given the commission cannot be used in criminal proceedings.

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