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Former British soldier to be prosecuted in 1972 ‘Troubles’ killing in Northern Ireland

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A former British soldier will be prosecuted for the killing of a man in Belfast during sectarian violence known as the “Troubles” half a century ago, Northern Irish prosecutors said Thursday.

The ex-soldier, who is not named, is accused of the murder of Patrick McVeigh, 44, who was shot in the city of Belfast on May 13, 1972. He and three other veterans also face attempted murder charges related to incidents in the same year.

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The soldiers all belonged to a temporary British army unit, known as the Military Reaction Force, that was operating in Belfast at the time.

Union Jack

The Union Jack is photographed against a partly-cloudy sky (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Prosecutors made the announcement following investigations into the activities of the army unit.

The cases will not be affected by a contentious law that will give immunity from prosecution for offenses committed during the Troubles, the three decades of violence in Northern Ireland in which more than 3,500 people died.

The Legacy and Reconciliation Bill is expected to come into effect from May 1. Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who proposed the bill, said it would enable Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles.”

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But the families of those killed and local politicians have strongly criticized it, saying it will airbrush the past and shut down access to justice for victims and survivors. Dozens of legacy inquests have yet to be heard.

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