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15 June 2000 Edition

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Officers wanted kills, Inquiry hears

The Bloody Sunday Inquiry heard this week that a soldier in the Parachute Regiment claimed that he and his colleagues were told by a senior officer the night before the march ``we want some kills tomorrow.''

The soldier, who is identified by the code number 027, continued: ``To the mentality of the blokes to whom he was speaking, this was tantamount to an order (i.e. an exoneration of all responsibility.)'' The soldiers' statement, dated November 1975, was contained in a dossier compiled by the Irish Government, according to Christopher Clark QC, Counsel for the Inquiry.

The soldier also stated that he witnessed another soldier shooting civilians who had their hands in the air, then finishing one off as he lay on the ground.

The Inquiry, now in its eighth week, suspended opening remarks in order to hold interlocutory hearings on various matters. On Tuesday, Alan Roxburgh of the Tribunal staff stated that the British Army had ten stills photographers and one cine-camera team in Derry on Bloody Sunday, but that these photographs and film had not been forthcoming from army sources. Mr Roxburgh also revealed that three rolls of film shot by the RUC on the day cannot be traced.

Barry MacDonald QC, who represents the family of Jim Wray, who was killed on Bloody Sunday, said that there could be ``a deliberate, concerted policy of withholding vital photographs in relation to this Inquiry, on the grounds that that material was too damaging to let fall into the hands of this Inquiry.'' He said the fact that the existence of such photographs had been concealed from the families of the dead and wounded at the time of the Widgery Tribunal in 1972 ``gives rise to the inference that they undermine the army's case and they supported the case put on behalf of the dead and wounded.''

An application for anonymity on behalf of a civilian witness was dismissed by Lord Saville. The witness had stated he believed his life would be at risk if his identity were made public, as his evidence includes details of shots fired at the army, although his evidence states that these shots were fired after people had been killed. In making his decision, Saville said that because the issues raised were of significant importance to the subject of the Inquiry, it would be a breach of public duty to withhold publication. As this material revealed, the applicant's identity, granting him anonymity would be a meaningless gesture, he concluded.

The Inquiry, however, made an earlier ruling in favour of a soldier who requested that his features be disguised in photographs submitted in evidence to the Inquiry, even though there is no method for civilians or their lawyers to connect the photograph to a numbered soldier, or to ascertain his identity.

Opening remarks will continue next week, when Christopher Clark QC is expected to present evidence in relation to the killings of Patrick Doherty and Bernard McGuigan.

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