Two former British paratroopers accused of killing the official IRA leader in Belfast in 19elf2 have been formally acquitted after being disbanded within days of the start of a trial for the elderly.
Anonymity by court order – Veterans of the Parachute Regiment were formally cleared in Belfast Crown Court on Tuesday of the shooting of Joe McCann, leader of the official Irish Republican Army (IRA) battalion.
McConnell (24) refrained from arresting paratroopers when soldiers patrolled the streets of the British-ruled province in April 1942, at the height of a clash known as “The Troubles” in the Markets area of Belfast.
The trial of the two elders, now in their 70s and simply identified as A and C, opened last week in Belfast Crown Court. This is the first time in several years that allegations have been made against former military personnel in the bloody conflict in Northern Ireland.
Prosecutors were unable to present any further evidence against them on Tuesday, with Judge John O’Hara deciding Friday to dismiss statements made prior to 1972 and 2010.
The trial began last Monday and has been going on for the past four weeks. It promised to explore the untidy legacy of British military operations in Northern Ireland.
McCann’s family lawyer Niall Murphy said outside court on Tuesday that the verdict “does not acquit the murder state” and that the family plans to appeal to the attorney general to investigate the murder.
“This verdict does not mean that Joe McCann was not killed by the British military,” he told reporters.
“He was shot unarmed from a distance of 40 meters, there is no threat. It was easier to arrest him than to kill him. ”
Murphy said the family would now ask ex-servicemen for evidence in a coroner’s interrogation and cross-examination.
Joe McCann’s daughter Law says the criminal justice system failed in her father’s case as well as in many other families.
‘Never Should Have Been’
The statement made by the ex-servicemen to the Royal Military Police in 19 soldiers2 cannot be accepted as the accused were ordered to make them due to problems and they were not handled with caution.
The second source of evidence – the statement made by the two men to the Police Legacy Unit in 2010 – is not valid.
The judge on Friday defended the defense attorneys and ruled that the evidence was only 1972 evidence that “a 2010 cover was decorated and furnished.”
Philip Barden, a senior partner at the law firm representing Soldiers A and C, said state attorneys should never have sued.
He said the decision-making process of a senior judge should be investigated “to ensure that the decision to prosecute these elders was not political”.
The resignation was welcomed by Johnny Mercer, a veteran UK minister who resigned in protest of the slow progress in protecting the military in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
“It should never have happened,” the former British army officer wrote on Twitter. “Hopefully this will mark the lowest point of this nation’s treatment with its elders.”
Never happened. Hopefully this will mark the lowest point of this nation’s treatment with its veterans. The government has to work. pic.twitter.com/FTlKbs3e8Z
– Johnny Mercer (@ Johnny Mercer UK) May 4, 2021
According to Ulster University’s Sutton Index, the British military was responsible for about 300 killings during the operation, which officially ended in 200.
A statement from the UK Parliament’s briefing paper published in February said that six former military personnel had been charged with “offenses”.
Former members of the British military have decided to take action in the face of charges and action against anger, and the government has seen a commitment to legislate to prevent further lawsuits.
Cases of the “Troubles” era are rife with controversy in Northern Ireland, which is divided along communal lines despite the 1999 peace agreement.
19 British troops arrived in the province on a peacekeeping mission in 1999, but were involved in several bloody chapters of the conflict, in which a total of 3,500 people were killed.
Some feel that the actions of the soldiers were state-sanctioned and legitimate, compared to the shadowy paramilitary forces between the pro-Ireland nationalist and pro-British unionist communities.
Others feel that employees should be held to a higher standard than officers and that a blanket of general pardon refers to guilt among all soldiers.