Coronavirus delays decision on Soldier F trial venue

Derry's Bishop Street Courthouse was deserted yesterday, Thursday morning, after the Bloody Sunday Soldier F case was put back until next month due to the Coronavirus pandemic. PICTURE: Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

A decision on whether or not former Bloody Sunday paratrooper, Solider F will stand trial in Derry or Belfast has been put back by a further month.

The Bloody Sunday families were expecting a final decision on the location for Soldier F's trial yesterday, however, they were informed that it would be delayed until April 22 - and possibly longer - because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Soldier F is expected to be charged with the murder of William McKinney and Jim Wray and the attempted murders on Bloody Sunday of Patrick O'Donnell, Joe Mahon, Joseph Friel and Michael Quinn.

At a preliminary hearing of Derry's Magistrate's Court, it was suggested to district judge, Barney McElholm that the case be moved to Belfast because Derry's Bishop Street Courthouse was not large enough to facilitate such a hearing.

However, the move was opposed by the Bloody Sunday families who were determined that Soldier F should stand trial in the city where their loved ones were killed.

Michael McKinney, William McKinney's brother, said the latest delay was, “while entirely understandable, nevertheless frustrating”.

Mr McKinney said: “The Bloody Sunday families have fought a long campaign for justice for my brother, Willie and all the dead and victims and that campaign will continue.

“There have been many obstacles along the path of this campaign and the coronavirus is another although it is by far the biggest obstacle given this is a world pandemic. But we will overcome this as we have every other obstacle.”

The Derry man said the families were determined to gain the same justice for their loved ones that was the right of every victim.

“No-one should doubt for a single second our determination to keep going. What drives us – and all the Bloody Sunday families - is a burning passion for justice,” Mr McKinney said.

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