Key Bloody Sunday hearing set for Derry/Londonderry in the summer

By Michael McHugh, PA.

A key hearing for a former soldier charged with murder over Bloody Sunday is set to be held in Londonderry this summer, a court said.

Soldier F denies two counts of murder and five of attempted murder during a 1972 civil rights protest in the city.

A special court session to produce the evidence before the case is transferred to a higher court is due to be held in July.

Mickey McKinney, brother of William McKinney who was killed in Glenfada Park in the Bogside estate, said: "We understand that the Court Service will be asked to make provision which will allow the families to attend or observe future hearings remotely whilst the effects of this pandemic are felt.

"We consider that this is a positive development as the participation of the families and wounded is central to this process."

Soldier F faces two counts of murder and five of attempted murder.

A total of 13 people were killed and 15 wounded when members of the Army's Parachute Regiment opened fire on demonstrators on Sunday January 30 1972.

It was one of the catalysts for the Northern Ireland conflict which lasted for decades and cost thousands of lives.

The case against Soldier F was reviewed by way of a remote hearing before Derry Magistrates' Court on Wednesday morning.

The veteran is charged with the murders of James Wray and William McKinney.

Four of the attempted murder charges relate to the wounding of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O'Donnell.

The fifth relates to persons unknown.

Ciaran Shiels of Madden & Finucane solicitors said the intention to hold the case there remained subject to review due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: "The court will reconvene remotely on June 10 to consider a number of outstanding issues, including whether the accused and witnesses will be required to attend to give evidence."

Families had opposed holding the hearing, to transfer the case from a magistrates' to a Crown court, in Belfast.

A district judge had expressed reservations about limitations in Londonderry.

They included concerns around being able to accommodate the numbers attending, difficulty hearing proceedings and security considerations.

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