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CAMPAIGNERS in Ireland have hit out at attempts to introduce an amnesty that would stop the prosecution of troops for incidents that took place over a decade ago.
Newly appointed Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt hoped that new legislation would apply to cases from the Troubles where one ex-paratrooper is facing murder charges over Bloody Sunday, and another veteran is being prosecuted over the killing of an unarmed man who was shot in the back.
Ms Mordaunt said that she wanted to introduce “a wider solution for the veterans’ community” after she announced plans for a 10-year veterans’ amnesty covering Iraq and Afghanistan.
She admitted she wanted to extend the exemption from prosecutions to the north of Ireland, where a number of historical cases relating to the Troubles are coming under scrutiny.
The Ballymurphy inquest in Belfast has heard gruesome testimony of out of control soldiers celebrating kills and even using a human skull as an ashtray.
The killing of 10 unarmed and innocent civilians in West Belfast in August 1971 included a priest giving the last rights to a dying man, and a mother of eight who was left to die in a field after being shot in the face.
The inquest follows the decision to charge “Soldier F” with two counts of murder and three of attempted murder for his role in the Bloody Sunday killings in Derry in January 1972.
Pressure has been mounting, with Conservative MPs and former soldiers complaining that those who served in the north of Ireland are being “persecuted.”
But the Pat Finucane Centre in Derry explained that this is not the case. Tens of thousands of Irish republicans spent time in jails for their role in the conflict.
Just four British soldiers have been convicted of shooting civilians while on duty in circumstances where the courts ruled they were guilty of murder.
All were freed after just five years of their life sentences. All were allowed to rejoin the British army.
Paul O’Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre ridiculed the Defence Secretary’s announcements.
“We know the military wing of the Tory party and MoD are treating veterans like mushrooms,” he told the Morning Star.
“They keep them in the dark and feed them shit.”
He warned any proposal for an amnesty in the north of Ireland would “interfere with normal criminal law.”
The Northern Ireland Office is thought to be bewildered by the proposals and has said privately that the MoD “doesn’t have a clue.”
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