Protests over soldier trial for fatal shooting
Army veterans in Troubles death demo
HUNDREDS of Army veterans have marched in Westminster alongside a former soldier facing prosecution in connection with the death of a vulnerable man during the Troubles.
Dennis Hutchings, 76, is to stand trial on charges linked to the shooting of John Pat Cunningham who was killed in Benburb, Co Tyrone, in 1974.
Hutchings is accused of the attempted murder of the unarmed man. A court has heard that when the 27-year-old victim, who had learning difficulties, was shot he was running away from an Army patrol because he had a fear of men in uniform.
Hutchings, of Cawsand, Cornwall, is also facing a charge of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.
The group Justice For Northern Ireland Veterans organised the march to protest at the amount of recent investigations into soldiers which they call an unfair witch-hunt. The march was met with a counter demonstration by campaigners holding a silent vigil and carrying placards which read “I am John Pat Cunningham”. There were verbal clashes.
Hutchings threw his military medals as the march passed Parliament.
He said: “Today went very well. I hope it shows the Government they have to do something about this absolute travesty of justice.”
Some marchers wore their former uniforms, decorated with medals from their time in Northern Ireland and carried Union and Northern Ireland flags.
Paul O’Connor, from the Pat Finucane Centre which works with the Cunningham family, was a counter-protester. He said: “We’re here today to remind people of who the victim was.
“I know that the British Army has had a culture of impunity over the years and they believe that they are not subject to the rule of law like anyone else, but they are – or they should be.”
Mr O’Connor claimed some of those involved in the rally were abusive towards them. Other counter-protests took place at locations in Northern Ireland including Belfast, Derry, Strabane and Co Armagh.
ON THE MARCH Dennis Hutchings yesterday
KILLED Mr Cunningham