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Ex-British Soldier, 66, Is Arrested in Bloody Sunday Massacre

Ex-British Soldier, 66, Is Arrested in Bloody Sunday Massacre

By SEWELL CHAN and DOUGLAS DALBY for NY Times

The police in Northern Ireland arrested a 66-year-old man on Tuesday in connection with Bloody Sunday, the infamous massacre of unarmed civilian marchers by British soldiers in Londonderry on Jan. 30, 1972. It was the first time anyone has been arrested in the massacre, for which the British government formally apologized in 2010.

The former soldier, whose name was not released, was arrested in County Antrim and taken to a police station in Belfast for questioning. The BBC reported that the ex-soldier was a former lance corporal — identified in a 2010 report by the pseudonymous initial “J.” He is believed to have been involved in three of the 13 killings that day. A 14th victim died months later.

Lance Corporal J was a member of the Parachute Regiment, the Army unit most hated by Catholic nationalists during the Troubles, the 30-year struggle over the status of Northern Island. Five months before Bloody Sunday, members of the regiment fatally shot 11 unarmed civilians in Belfast. In retaliation, the Irish Republican Army blew up the regiment’s base in Aldershot, England, in 1974, killing seven people.

The Troubles, which claimed 3,600 lives, largely ended with the 1998 Good Friday agreement, when paramilitary groups like the I.R.A. agreed to cease hostilities and the governments of Britain and Ireland, along with the major political parties in Northern Ireland, agreed on a complex set of power-sharing arrangements for the British territory.

In 2010, after a 12-year, $283 million investigation, a government inquiry led by an eminent jurist, Lord Saville, found that “a serious and widespread loss of fire discipline” had allowed the massacre to take place.

The report, which exceeded 5,000 pages across 10 volumes, exonerated the victims, concluding that the soldiers had fired the first shot and had given no warning before opening fire. Some of those killed or wounded, the report found, were either fleeing or trying to help other victims.

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