Northern Ireland news

Date for Soldier F appearance expected to be set in court today

Jim Wray. Picture: Bloody Sunday Trust
Seamus McKinney

A DATE for the first appearance of Soldier F in Derry is expected to be set when the former Paratrooper's lawyers appear at the city's magistrate's court today.

Soldier F is expected to be charged with the murders of William McKinney and Jim Wray on Bloody Sunday. He is also facing attempted murder charges in the cases of Joe Friel, Joe Mahon, Michael Quinn and Patsy O’Donnell, who has since died.

All four men were shot and wounded when soldiers opened fire on civil rights marchers on Bloody Sunday on January 30 1972.

It had been expected that the former paratrooper would appear in person at Derry Magistrate’s Court today. However, the Public Prosecution Service informed relatives of the victims that Soldier F’s lawyers intended challenging the case. This means that the former soldier will not be required to appear in person.

Solicitor for the McKinney family, Ciarán Shiels of Madden and Finucane Solicitors said Soldier F’s legal team was expected to seek a cross-examination of some witnesses before the case starts at Crown Court.

“We have been informed that Soldier F’s lawyers intend to proceed by mixed committal. They are requesting the attendance of prosecution witnesses to be cross examined at this stage of proceedings. Normally this is left to the Crown Court,” Mr Shiels said.

The lawyer said the mixed committal procedure was completely normal.

“The district judge will have to rule if Soldier F faces a prima facie case (if there is sufficient prosecution evidence for a trial to proceed) based on the evidence of witnesses at this stage, both oral and in statement form,” he said.

Soldier F’s lawyers are expected to submit the names of the witnesses they wish to cross examine. While Wednesday’s procedural hearing is expected to be short, Mr Shields said the court was likely to set out a time-table and a date for the mixed committal hearing.

“It’s standard stuff but when they’re cross examining witnesses at a mixed committal hearing, Soldier F must legally be present so on Wednesday we would expect to have a date for that,” he said.

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