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Protests over Army Troubles prosecutions

Former soldier Dennis Hutchings (centre) attended Saturday's protest in London

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Former soldier Dennis Hutchings (centre) attended Saturday’s protest in London

A protest against the prosecution of former soldiers for killings during the Troubles in Northern Ireland has been met with counter-demonstrations.

Supporters of Army veterans are staging a protest at Horse Guards Parade in London, demanding an end to what they have called a “witch hunt”.

But campaigners seeking justice for those killed by soldiers want the prosecution cases to continue.

They are holding counter-protests in London and four Northern Ireland sites.

Supporters of the veterans have called their demonstration “I am Dennis Hutchings” to highlight the case of an elderly former soldier.

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Dennis Hutchings pictured at a previous court hearing

Mr Hutchings is facing trial for the attempted murder of a man who was shot dead in County Armagh in 1974.

John Patrick Cunningham, 27, was unarmed when he was shot in a field near Benburb.

Saturday’s counter-demonstrations have been called “I am John Pat Cunningham – I’m dead”.

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John Pat Cunningham was shot dead in 1974

The dead man’s friends are holding a vigil at Horse Guards parade, at the same time as the veterans’ protest.

Other counter-protests are taking place in Belfast, Londonderry, Strabane, County Tyrone and at the scene of Mr Cunningham’s shooting in County Armagh.

They have been organised by members of the Pat Finucane Centre and the campaign group, Relatives for Justice.

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A banner in support of John Pat Cunningham’s family was erected in Derry

The protest in support of former soldiers is being staged by a group called Justice for Northern Ireland Veterans.

Campaigners have previously described the prosecution process as a “one-sided witch hunt”.

They have claimed that former soldiers are being brought to court while paramilitary suspects have been granted immunity from prosecution.

In January, the director of public prosecutions in Northern Ireland defended his record of impartiality and said critics who accused him of treating former soldiers unfairly had insulted him and his office.

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