Irish Republican News · January 22, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: SHOW TRIAL CONVICTION OVERTURNED
SHOW TRIAL CONVICTION OVERTURNED

The only man convicted over the 1998 ‘Real IRA’ Omagh bomb has had his conviction overturned, while two Garda police detectives are to be tried for perjury.

Colm Murphy was sentenced to 14 years over the attack, which claimed 31 lives but remains mired in controversy and confusion over the motives and actions of police on both sides of the border.

Mr Murphy won an appeal against his conviction on Friday and was released on bail pending a retrial on the same charges. Meanwhile, Detective Garda John Fahy and Detective Garda Liam Donnelly were charged with falsely swearing evidence.

The detectives were one of three teams that questioned Mr Murphy over the 1998 bomb which exploded in the County Tyrone town, despite warnings from the breakaway republican group.

The trial judges said that the two gardai had been “guilty of patent falsification” in evidence by denying that notes of an interview with Mr Murphy were altered.

The Appeal Court found the trial judges had not considered the possible contamination of other Garda evidence.

It also found that an “invasion of the presumption of innocence” regarding Mr Murphy’s previous convictions had tainted the judgment.

Mr Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was among the 29 people killed, said the families of the victims were “shocked and disappointed”.

“There must be questions that the court service, the Government and the gardai have to answer,” he said.

“It seems only a full public cross-border public inquiry will uncover the truth.”

The Republican Sinn Féin vice-president, Des Dalton, said: “Republican Sinn Féin welcomes the Dublin Court of Criminal Appeal’s quashing today of Colm Murphy’s conviction and 14-year sentence by the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

“The fact that the non-jury Special Criminal Court was willing to convict Colm Murphy based on evidence which it is unlikely would have been accepted by a conventional court, as well as infringing his right to presumption of innocence, highlights the assault on basic human and civil rights which the non-jury Special Court and the draconian Offences Against the State Act represent.

“In its most recent observations on the 26-county State’s human rights record in 2000,” Mr Dalton added, “the UN Human Rights Committee called on the Dublin Government to dismantle the non-jury Special Criminal Court. Despite this, the Dublin Government announced in December that it intended opening a second non-jury Special Criminal Court.”

Meanwhile, there have been calls for a secret 26-County government report on Garda actions at the time of the Omagh bomb to be made public.

The Nally report was suppressed by order of the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell. He claimed the report had not supported allegations by a garda, Det Sgt John White, that a “Real IRA” informer alerted him before the 1998 attack about a car which was to be used in a bombing.

Detective White said he passed the warning on to a senior officer but it was not used to prevent the bombing. Instead, White faced charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and three of making false statements.

In February, Mr McDowell promised to make an edited copy of the report public after the case against Det Sgt White was dealt with.

White was acquitted on Tuesday at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

© 2005 Irish Republican News