Soldiers threaten court action

Soldiers shot 13 people dead in Derry on Bloody Sunday

The Bloody Sunday soldiers are on the verge of taking the Saville Inquiry to court.

The move could not only delay the Tribunal but affect what Lord Saville can say in his final report.

The Tribunal has ruled it does not have to use the criminal standard of proof if, for example, it is to find that a particular soldier probably shot someone without justification.

The inquiry has been examining the events of 30 January 1972 when 13 civilians were shot dead by soldiers during a civil rights march in Londonderry. Another man died later from his injuries.

Lord Saville says the Tribunal is not a court, does not convict anyone and that it is his duty to investigate what happened and to report what he has found.

But the soldiers had argued that the tribunal must use the criminal standard because the consequences for the soldiers concerned would be very serious.

Given evidence

But having lost the argument with Lord Saville at this stage, the barristers for the soldiers are now very likely to take the Tribunal to court.

If that happens, the Tribunal could face further delays and if the soldiers win the argument in court, this will affect what Lord Saville can actually say in his final report.

Lord Saville of Newdigate and the Commonwealth judges accompanying him on the inquiry began their work in March 2000, and since then, more than 900 witnesses have given evidence to the tribunal.

The inquiry has heard evidence from leading politicians, including the prime minister at the time, Sir Edward Heath, civilians, policemen, soldiers and IRA members.

Christopher Clarke, QC, was this month expected to deliver his closing statement which would last about two weeks.

Only when Mr Clarke has finished that stage of the tribunal will the three judges sit down to write their report.

The inquiry has so far cost £130m. The final cost will be in the region of £150m.

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