LEGAL cases in the North of Ireland against six retired British soldiers will not be affected by government efforts to prevent what it has described as “vexatious prosecutions”, it has been reported.
Cases are expected to proceed to trial against six former British soldiers including ‘Soldier F’, who faces murder charges over Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972. The British government has been preparing legislation claimed to stop “vexatious” prosecutions of soldiers linked to the Troubles. The Sunday Times reported that the legislation will not affect the cases already under way, for which trials are expected to start at the end of this year or early in 2021. Government sources told the paper the legislation would not pass through parliament until the end of this year at the earliest.
“There is no existing mechanism for the government to step in with respect to prosecutions in the North of Ireland that are currently on going,” a senior government source said. “Changing the position regarding the government’s powers over prosecutions in the North of Ireland would require primary legislation and would be contrary to the devolution of policing and justice.” Tory MP Bob Stewart, a retired colonel, told the Sunday Times: “I don’t think this is justice for our soldiers who have been investigated number times and then brought before the North of Ireland courts. The prime minister promised he going to sort this out.” UK defence secretary Ben Wallace defended the government’s plans. “The government has repeatedly committed to ensuring equal treatment for veterans, most recently by the prime minister,” he said. “We continue to work with colleagues to deliver on that commitment and end the scourge of vexatious claims and repeated investigations.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story
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