Preliminary inquiry hearing begins to determine if Solider F will stand trial for two murders

The Solider F case relates to Bloody Sunday

A preliminary inquiry hearing to determine if there's sufficient evidence to send a veteran paratrooper for trial charged with murder arising out of the Bloody Sunday killings over 50 years ago has opened at Bishop Street courthouse in Londonderry.

The paratrooper, known as Soldier F, is charged with two murders and five attempted murders arising out of the Bloody Sunday killings over fifty years ago opened in the Bishop Street courthouse in Londonderry on Tuesday.

Soldier F, watched and listened on the court sight link as the first prosecution witness, Denis McLaughlin, gave live evidence from a location in Denmark where he was accompanied by a PSNI detective constable as well as by a Danish police officer.

The magistrate presiding over the Preliminary Inquiry hearing, which is expected to last up to two weeks, District Judge Ted Magill, has ruled that for legal reasons none of the evidence given by witnesses during the hearing can be reported.

Thirteen civilians were shot dead and fourteen others wounded when members of the Parachute Regiment opened fire on Civil Rights marchers in the Bogside area of Derry on January 30, 1972.

Soldier F, who is the first ex-paratrooper to be charged in relation to Bloody Sunday, denies murdering two of the victims on the day, William McKinney and Jim Wray, and also denies attempting to murder Patrick O'Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon, Michael Quinn and a person unknown.

The preliminary inquiry hearing initially stalled when in July 2021 the Public Prosecution Service announced they were dropping the case after a trial of two other military veterans charged with another killing collapsed.

That decision however was overturned following an appeal by the Bloody Sunday families and last March the High Court instructed the P.P.S. to proceed with their case.

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