Soldier F, the British soldier accused of killing Jim Wray, 22, and William McKinney, 26, during Derry’s Bloody Sunday more than 50 years ago, is being returned for trial, a judge in Derry said today, Thursday, December 14.

In addition to the murders of Wray and McKinney, Soldier F is further charged with the attempted murder of five other people on that day, January 30, 1972.

On Thursday, after several years of evidence and submissions, District Judge Ted Magill said he didn't "require any more time" and that he was returning Soldier F for trial on all charges, according to The Derry Journal.

The judge asked the two statutory questions - did Soldier F want to call any witnesses or make any statement at this stage - and the reply was in the negative.

Soldier F was then returned for trial to Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed in January and released on continuing bail.

Soldier F is the only British soldier to face prosecution over the events of Bloody Sunday, January 30, 1972, when British paratroopers opened fire on a peaceful protest organized by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association which was protesting the poor treatment of Catholics in Northern Ireland.

13 people were killed on the day, while another person died months later after being shot in the leg.

In March 2019, Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) announced that Soldier F would be prosecuted for the murders of Jim Wray and William McKinney.

In 2021, however, the PPS dropped the case against Soldier F after a separate trial collapsed against two other former British soldiers.

However, the High Court overruled the decision following a legal challenge from the relatives of Bloody Sunday victims, prompting the PPS to announce in September 2022 that it would recommence proceedings against Soldier F

On Thursday, Mickey McKinney, the brother of William McKinney, said outside Derry Court: “We welcome today’s decision to return Soldier F for trial in the Crown Court.

“This development has been a long time in coming.

“Next month represents the 52nd anniversary of the events of Bloody Sunday. Witnesses are dying and becoming unavailable.

“It is therefore incumbent upon the Crown to bring this prosecution to a swift and successful conclusion by ensuring Soldier F’s conviction for the grave crimes for which he stands accused.”

Tony Doherty, Chairperson of the Bloody Sunday Trust, said on Thursday: “It is over 13 years since the Saville Report was published.

"It remains a constant source of anger amongst the families that it has taken this long to get to the stage where one soldier is to be prosecuted.

"We welcome today’s decision and look forward to the beginning of the trial.”

The Bloody Sunday Trust has today welcomed the decision by the District Judge to agree that the case against Soldier F on the charges of murder and attempted murder should proceed.

Tony Doherty, Chairperson of the Bloody Sunday Trust said, “It is over 13 years since

— Bloody Sunday Trust (@BloodySundayT) December 14, 2023

Colum Eastwood, head of Northern Ireland's Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said in a post on X that his thoughts were with all of the Bloody Sunday families and that the SDLP "will always stand with them."

My thoughts are with all the Bloody Sunday families today, especially those of William McKinney and James Wray.

For decades they have fought with dignity for truth and justice for their loved ones. @SDLPlive will always stand with them.

— Colum Eastwood 🇺🇦 (@columeastwood) December 14, 2023

Sinn Féin MLA Pádraig Delargy said: "For almost 52 years they have remained resolute, determined, and courageous. The people of Derry will continue to support them on that journey."

.@Padraig_Delargy extends solidarity to Bloody Sunday families as Soldier F to stand trial in Crown Court.

“We will continue to stand with the Bloody Sunday families every step of the way as they continue to pursue justice through the courts.”

— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) December 14, 2023

Elsewhere on Thursday, Chris Heaton-Harris, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the appointment of seven Commissioners to the newly established Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

The ICRIR has been established following the commencement of the provisions of the controversial Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023.

The new British legislation, which received widespread opposition, will end new Troubles-era cases and inquests and offer conditional amnesty to those accused of killings.