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UK News

Murder trial of two former soldiers accused of killing IRA commander in 1972 collapses


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The trial of two former British soldiers for the shooting dead of an IRA commander in 1972 has collapsed at the Crown Court in Belfast.

Joe McCann, 24, was unarmed when soldiers opened fire on him in Joy Street, as he ran from them in a bid to evade capture.

The case against the two veterans, identified only as Soldiers A and C, fell apart when evidence deemed central to the prosecution was ruled inadmissible.

The judge precluded statements the soldiers had been ordered to give the Army in 1972 and had given voluntarily to the Historical Investigations Team in 2010.

Joe McCann. Pic: Victor Patterson
Image: Joe McCann was an IRA commander. Pic: Victor Patterson

The prosecution accepted that the statements were inadmissible because they had not been given under caution and without the soldiers having access to legal representation.

Mr Justice O’Hara said it was “remarkable” that the accused had never been arrested or questioned by police before being put on trial for murder.

Pictured wielding a gun on a Belfast street, McCann is the subject of one of the most iconic images of the Northern Ireland troubles.

More from UK

Belfast Crown Court heard the prominent member of the old Official IRA had been responsible for the deaths of 15 British soldiers in Northern Ireland.

His widow Anne and their family had waited nearly 49 years for their day in court, only to see the trial collapse in a week.

Veterans calling for a halt to the historical prosecution of former British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland had protested outside the court in Belfast.

Former armed forces minister Johnny Mercer, who resigned over the issue 10 days ago, was back in the city to offer the accused his support.

There are those demanding an amnesty but that is the word politicians in Northern Ireland dare not speak while victims continue to call for justice.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News

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