‘Terrorists are handled better than veterans,’ says ex-soldier facing attempted murder charges.
A GREAT-grandfather who undergoes dialysis three times a week will go on trial today, six years after he was originally detained, for allegedly attempting to murder a soldier on patrol in Northern Ireland.
Dennis Hutchings, 80, a former Life Guards unit member, has pleaded not guilty to the allegation, which has been pending for more than 47 years. In 1974, John Pat Cunningham, 27, of Co Tyrone, was shot and killed while fleeing an Army patrol. The trial is scheduled to take place in the middle of the Conservative Party Conference, which will humiliate Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Mr Johnson said earlier this year that soldiers who served in the Troubles would no longer be prosecuted.
However, the policy will not become law until early next year, which is too late for Mr Hutchings, who suffers from heart failure and pulmonary edema.
Arrangements have been arranged for him to go to a Belfast hospital three times a week for kidney dialysis during his trial. Mr Hutchings’ physicians recommended him not to travel and were willing to issue him a medical certificate, causing the trial to be postponed indefinitely.
Mr Hutchings is not only keen to appear in court in Belfast’s Laganside, but he is also pursuing his case at the European Court of Human Rights. He told the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg last Friday that veterans had been subjected to discriminatory treatment in violation of the Human Rights Act.
“It’s too late for me,” he continued, “but it’s not too late for the Government to do the right thing for all those veterans who served to keep the peace in Northern Ireland and who still live in terror of a knock at the door.” If the government refuses to act or listen to veterans and the British people, I hope Strasbourg will.” The Daily Express’s Betrayal Of Our Veterans campaign has been fighting for ex-troops to be granted amnesty for actions they performed while serving their country for more than three years.
Hundreds of veterans who are concerned about being questioned or facing charges as a result of their courageous service will be reassured that they are protected by the law.
However, NI paramilitaries will be granted the same amnesty, and many ex-servicemen believe the idea puts them on the same level as terrorists.