This persecution is a stain on our nation, warn MPs — Bloody Sunday

Flowers are left at the memorial for the people who died during the Bloody Sunday events

Officials in Northern Ireland said Thursday that one former British soldier would be prosecuted on murder charges in connection with the massacre of unarmed civilians by British forces almost 50 years ago in Londonderry, an event that came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

"Our thoughts are with all the families of those who were killed and those injured on Bloody Sunday, for whom today will be another hard and emotional day".

The paratrooper, known only as Soldier F, is alleged to have murdered James Wray and William Mckinney during the Bloody Sunday massacre in the Northern Irish city of Derry in 1972.

John Kelly, a representative for the families of the victims, told reporters and onlookers, "There's a bad disappointment at the outcome".

The decision has led to polarised opinions underlining the extremely sensitive nature of the shootings and their consequences.

Soldiers take cover behind their sandbagged and armoured cars while dispersing rioters with CS gas during the Bloody Sunday riots.

Soldier F also faces charges for the attempted murders of Patrick O'Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn.

There is of course huge disappointment that only one former soldier has been charged with two counts of murder and four attempted murders.

Victims carried out of the fire line during Bloody Sunday.

"Their hearts must be broken", he said.

Families say they are disappointed with the decision, but it has sparked fury among some veterans.

John Kelly, whose 17-year-old brother Michael was shot dead, said: "The dead can not cry out for justice, it is the duty of the living to do so for them".

Linda Nash, the brother of William Nash, a 19-year-old killed on the day, was tearful when she emerged from the hotel.

Former paratroopers also expressed their outrage last night, saying that veterans - many of whom are now in their 60s and 70s - had been "hung out to dry".

"Willie was not a stone-thrower, a bomber or a gunman".

Linda Nash and campaigner Eamonn Mc Cann react

Hugh Gilmore (third left) clutching his stomach after he was shot during Bloody Sunday.

The Saville report used the soldiers' ciphers to identify some its authors were sure fired lethal shots.

The Saville Inquiry found that both William McKinney and James Wray could have been shot by Soldier F and three other soldiers. An 18th soldier died a year ago.

Relatives of the victims told reporters that the families were disappointed by the decision to charge only one soldier, and that the bereaved families are also among the victims.

"Consideration will now be given to allegations of perjury in respect of those suspects reported by police", he said.

He expects Soldier F to be brought before a court in Northern Ireland and to be named.

An official inquiry into the incident was set up in 1998, when a peace deal was signed to end the Northern Ireland conflict.

"The welfare of our former service personnel is of the utmost importance and we will offer full legal and pastoral support to the individual affected by today's decision".

Britain's Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said former personnel could not live "in constant fear of prosecution".

A public inquiry conducted by a senior judge shortly after the deaths was branded a whitewash by the dead victims' families and thus began a campaign for a new public inquiry.

A police investigation into Bloody Sunday followed Lord Saville's 12-year, £200m public inquiry.

A file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in November 2016.

They also considered whether to prosecute two former members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for their role on the day, one of the seminal events during "The Troubles".

Papers before prosecutors included 668 witness statements and numerous photos, video and audio evidence.

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