The Saville inquiry states that British soldiers fired upon a civilian crowd. They fired the first shots. They were indiscriminate in their targets and some must have known they were firing on unarmed men.
It’s taken 38 years for the truth, widely known, to be officially recognized. Many of those soldiers are still alive.
Some will claim that prosecutions are a waste of time. They’ll be bogged down in legal procedure and it won’t bring anyone back at this stage. Still others will claim that enlisted soldiers of 1 Para should not be singled out, since they were following superior orders.
For the first argument I say this: The inquiry has determined that their was criminal wrongdoing. Justice is justice. It is not meant to serve the survivors or even the victims. Justice serves justice. These men killed unarmed civilians, gunned them down. They are killers and should be treated as such, regardless of how long or difficult a trial would be.
For the second I say this: “I was only following orders” is not an acceptable defence. Soldiers in nearly all militaries are required to follow orders, but only when those orders are lawful. A soldier, regardless of rank or situation, is duty bound to disobey an order he knows to be unlawful.
These soldiers were ordered to fire into a civilian crowd. They fired the first shots. The continued to fire when the crowd retreated. They shot men trying to help the wounded. This situation screams many words. Unlawful is one of them.
You don’t get to shoot 14 unarmed civilians dead, lie about it in inquires, then get away with it because it happened a long time ago. Prosecute them. Let the families make claims against the British Armed forces. Make these soldiers stand up in a court of law, a civilian court of law, and defend their actions that day.
Justice is justice. Neither time, nor orders, will ever change that.