Joe McCann murder accused bid for anonymity as trial begins

Two former soldiers accused of murdering Joe McCann in Belfast in April 1972 have requested anonymity for the duration of the trial.

The trial of the two men, former members of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, opened in Belfast’s Laganside Courts yesterday, though the men were not present.

District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled that the pair would be referred to as Soldier A and Soldier C until the application for anonymity was considered on Wednesday 20 December, The Times reports.

Mr McCann, aged 24 at the time of his killing, was a leading member of the Irish Republican Army and later the Official IRA.

According to the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), Mr McCann was shot in the back while running away from RUC and Special Branch officers and members of the Parachute Regiment in the Markets area of Belfast. One of the three soldiers who fired on him has since died.

Following the investigation, an application was made to the Attorney General for a fresh inquest. The AG referred the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who referred the case to the Legacy Inquest Branch of the PSNI, eventually resulting in a decision to prosecute.

Solicitor Kevin Winters of Belfast firm KRW Law, acting for the McCann family, said: “The PPS decision to prosecute in this case represents the out working of independent due process.”