Bloody Sunday evidence could be fatally flawed

Thursday 16 September 1999 17.12

It has emerged that evidence indicating that some of those killed in the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry had been handling weapons, could be fatally flawed. Reports submitted to the new Saville Inquiry re-investigating the 1972 killings, suggest some of the victims might have been wrongly suspected of carrying guns and explosives.

In the original Widgery inquiry held in 1972, in the aftermath of the Bloody Sunday killings, forensic evidence was produced to corroborate statements from the British Paratroopers involved in the shootings, alleging that several of the those shot dead had been handling weapons. Now the author of that forensic report has told the Saville Inquiry which is re-investigating the deaths of the fourteen people, that the presence of lead on the hands of the deceased did not mean there was a strong suspicion they were exposed to gunfire.

Dr John Martin says he now believes that where a test proved positive this could have resulted from contamination from other sources such as motor exhausts, which at the time were not fully evaluated. Greg McCartney, a Derry solicitor representing some of the families of the Bloody Sunday victims, said an expert witness employed by Lord Saville's current investigation team, had concluded that the evidence submitted to the original inquiry was worthless. A public hearing of the Saville Inquiry is due to held in Derry at the end of this month, and the full tribunal is expected to start next March.