By Anne Cadwallader
BELFAST — The Bloody Sunday Tribunal in Derry has ruled that even British soldiers who fired no shots at all on the day 14 people were killed are entitled to anonymity, as well as those who fired live rounds.
The tribunal has also ruled that broadcasting organizations must make evidence available to the inquiry. The first decision is another blow to relatives of the dead who had argued that the names of all the British soldiers involved should be given in open court.
The ruling means that even dead soldiers are entitled to anonymity. The tribunal has asked the British Ministry of Defence to provide a public interest immunity certificate to cover sensitive intelligence information that London does not want made public.
The BBC and ITN have been ordered to disclose information, but they have been given time to contact their confidential sources and seek their approval first.
The tribunal has also ordered a Daily Telegraph reporter to give evidence and it has referred the destruction of his notes and over-recording of his audiotapes to the director of public prosecutions.
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The families of the 14 people shot dead on Bloody Sunday have criticized the decision to grant anonymity to all soldiers who were present. A British Ministry of Defence spokesman said that the decision provided protection for all military witnesses who, he believed, could have been subjected to the threat of terrorist reprisal.
Solicitor Peter Madden, whose firm represents most of the 14 bereaved families, disputes the claim. He said that the relatives believed the soldiers had nothing to fear from being named, apart from the embarrassment of being involved in the events of Bloody Sunday.