Military defends ‘political witch-hunt’ Facebook post calling for Troubles murder witnesses
Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has been forced to defend a post on the Parachute Regiment’s Facebook group, calling for witnesses to a 1971 killing during the Northern Ireland Troubles.
The case concerns the shooting of Bernard Watt in the Ardoyne area of Belfast in 1971.
While the military says it must pursue all avenues, critics say the post amounts to a “witch-hunt” for former soldiers.
The Facebook post was quickly branded a betrayal of the troops.
The request for witnesses comes at a time when many veterans say they are being hassled over allegations of abuse while serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Northern Ireland.
The Watt family’s solicitor said this was a normal, if much delayed, legal process.
“This inquest was directed by the Attorney General in 2012, almost five years ago, and to date there has been very little success in identifying soldiers involved on that particular day,” Padraig O’Muirigh told the BBC on Friday.
“This family never had a proper investigation and it’s not about a witch hunt. An inquest is a fact-finding mission, it doesn’t make decisions on criminal or civil liabilities so to call it a witch hunt is a gross exaggeration.”
Two soldiers from the same unit are currently under investigation. They are implicated in a separate killing that occurred a year later.
A retired paratrooper, known only as Soldier A, is being reinvestigated alongside another Northern Ireland veteran, 65, known as Soldier C.
“I’m being treated like a terrorist. It’s disgusting and the government’s doing nothing about this political witch-hunt. I feel betrayed,” he told the Daily Mail in December.
“A letter at the time said no action would be taken. Now I’ve been treated with contempt by the Northern Ireland prosecution system.”