Protesters in London gather in support of 'Soldier F', who is facing trial for the murder of two men on Bloody Sunday, 1972
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Protesters in London gather in support of 'Soldier F', who is facing trial for the murder of two men on Bloody Sunday, 1972

PARTS OF central London were shut down over the weekend as supporters of 'Soldier F' protested the fact the former paratrooper is facing trial for his actions in the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1972.

Former servicemen, their families and supporters, including 'hundreds' of bikers, gathered in Trafalgar Square on Saturday, 28 September, before continuing their protest by marching to Westminster and forming a human chain.

The event was organised in order for supporters of Soldier F to voice their anger at the fact that he is facing trial for the murder of two men, with the organiser calling the trial itself 'the crime of the century'.

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Soldier F, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is the only member of the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment to be facing trial for the Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry in 1972, which resulted in the death of 14 people.

An inquiry into the massacre decided that Soldier F should face trial for the murder of William McKinney (27) and James Wray (22) as well as for the attempted murder of Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon, Michael Quinn and Patrick O'Donnell.

The inquiry found that Mr McKinney had been fatally shot in the back as he ran from the Battallion. Mr Wray was also shot in the back while fleeing, and shot again as he lay dying.

The organiser, Gavin Wragg, spoke to the PA news agency and said the decision to take Soldier F to court was not justice, rather "it's just to appease the IRA".

"We've got a peace process with Northern Ireland and all the terrorists were pardoned, they were all set free for the horrific crimes they committed. Now we are suddenly prosecuting only British soldiers."

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"You either have a peace agreement for all or nobody."

The estimated turnout of the protests is disputed, with reports ranging from hundreds into the thousands. Those taking part in the march included other former soldiers, including 78-year-old Dennis Hutchings, who is also facing trial for the killing of a 27-year-old man, John Patrick Cunningham, two years after the Bloody Sunday massacre.

Mr Cunningham, who had learning difficulties, was shot in the back as he ran from an army patrol in County Tyrone. The former soldier is facing charges of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm in relation to Mr Cunningham's death.

The protests are part of "Operation Rolling Thunder" and is the latest in a series of marches, including a previous event in London which saw 11,000 people take to the streets.