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Montevideo, June 17th 2019 - 06:56 UTC

Westminster to debate immunity from prosecution for soldiers who served in Northern Ireland

Monday, May 20th 2019 - 09:46 UTC
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Several Tory MPs are expected to urge an end to what they say are “abhorrent” proceedings against elderly veterans Several Tory MPs are expected to urge an end to what they say are “abhorrent” proceedings against elderly veterans

A petition calling for soldiers who served in Northern Ireland to be immune from prosecution will be debated by MPs amid reports No 10 has vetoed calls for legislation to protect veterans.

Several Tory MPs are expected to urge an end to what they say are “abhorrent” proceedings against elderly veterans. The petition says criminal probes into historical incidents should be outlawed “after a certain period of time”.

Ministers are consulting on how to deal with “legacy” cases fairly.

Some victims' groups and politicians in Northern Ireland believe that no-one should be above the law. Six former soldiers are currently facing prosecution over Troubles-era killings, although not all the charges are murder.

They include Soldier F, who is facing murder charges over the killing of two people - James Wray and William McKinney - on Bloody Sunday in Londonderry in 1972.

There has been increasing political controversy over the extent to which soldiers accused of crimes in the line of duty in Northern Ireland should be investigated.

Tory MP and ex-soldier Johnny Mercer, who served in Northern Ireland, has withdrawn his support from the government over the issue and called for legislation to limit the scope for further prosecutions.

The petition being debated on Monday, launched by Karen Webb-James, urges the authorities not to “prosecute the military for its work in Northern Ireland”.

The document, which has obtained more than 146,000 signatures, calls for a statute of limitations on prosecutions although it does not specify at what point this should apply.

Any petition with more than 100,000 signatories has to be considered for debate in Westminster Hall - the secondary debating chamber in the Commons.

Mr Mercer told Sky News that due legal process had to be followed but the “endless chase of people to their graves” did not represent justice.

He suggested unconfirmed reports in the Sunday Telegraph that the Theresa May had personally blocked legislation giving greater protection to veterans was “devastating”.

While he did not support a blanket amnesty or statute of limitations, he said a presumption against prosecution after 10 years, with a higher evidential threshold, was reasonable.

Categories: Politics, International.

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