BELFAST: Seven men have been charged over the shooting of an off-duty police officer in Northern Ireland earlier this year, investigators said yesterday.
Some of the defendants will face terrorism charges, while all stand accused of attempted murder.
Detective chief inspector John Caldwell, a high-profile officer who has led major investigations, survived the late-February attack, in which he was shot multiple times at a sports centre.
He had been coaching a youth football group which included his son, in the town of Omagh in the British province.
The shooting, condemned by politicians as “outrageous and shameful”, was carried out by two men.
Seven have now been charged, officers said.
“Two men aged 28, and five men aged 33, 38, 45, 47 and 72, have been charged with attempted murder,” the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said in a statement.
It added that two of the men had been charged with membership of a proscribed organisation, namely the Irish Republican Army (IRA), while three of the others face charges of preparing a terrorist act.
Earlier, the force said four others arrested in connection with the shooting had been released, “pending a report to the public prosecution service”.
The seven charged will appear in court tomorrow.
London’s Northern Ireland minister Chris Heaton-Harris welcomed the news of the charges.
“I would like to thank the PSNI for their efforts and the progress they have made in the case,” he wrote on Twitter.
Caldwell spent about two months in hospital, before being released in April.
Officers in Northern Ireland are subject to sporadic attacks that were once common in the region, which was plagued by decades of sectarian violence known as the Troubles before the signing of peace accords in 1998.
Tensions are currently running high in the province, with unionists loyal to the UK collapsing its power-sharing government to protest against post-Brexit trading rules, which they say are distancing Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
Omagh was the scene of one of the worst incidents of the Troubles, when a dissident group of the IRA detonated a car bomb on Aug 15, 1998, leaving 29 dead and 220 wounded.