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Bloody Sunday scientist admits original evidence erroneous

Dr. John Martin, he forensic scientist who gave evidence before the infamous Widgery inquiry into the deaths of thirteen civilians shot by British paratroopers on Bloody Sunday in Derry City in 1972, now agrees it is "probably fair enough" to say that at the time of his original tests he was invited to produce evidence that the victims had been associated with fire arms. He denied this amounted to "a corruption of the process".

Widgery exonerated the British troops in 1972, and his name has since passed into the Irish lexicon. "To tell a widgery" is the worst possible form of lying. His findings were disputed by relatives of the victims and independent eye witness accounts, and the London government was forced to establish a second inquiry in 1998 "to establish exactly what happened on Bloody Sunday."

At a hearing before the second inquiry Martin stated, "When I did the tests and prepared my report for Widgery, I was under the impression that 20 to 30 shots had been fired and that the bodies had been transferred in clean conditions to the mortuary. It was only at my cross-examination that I became aware that over 100 shots had been fired, greatly increasing both the overall levels of gunshot residues in the immediate environment and the possibility of fragmentation. In addition, at least some of the bodies had been handled and transported in a way that could have resulted in contamination by gunshot residue."

Widgery, who later was elevated to Chief Justice of England, concluded that seven of the victims handled a gun or been beside a gunman when they were shot dead, thus justifying the paratroopers' firing on them.

The second inquiry continues.

Anyone interested may view BBC archived video coverage of Bloody Sunday on the World Wide Web at and count the number of times gunfire is recorded in certain of the recorded scenes.

Recently the Canadian History Television Channel broadcast a documentary on Bloody Sunday. The realism of the day captured by television cameras was chilling even to viewers who weren't even born in 1977 but who have seen in real time such horrors as the Twin Towers suicide attacks in New York, the recent sniper killings in Maryland and Virginia, and the Moscow theatre hostage drama.

A web page launched by three Derry artists the bogside artists is recommended viewing.


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