Irish Republican News · February 15, 2008
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: McKevitt appeal opens
McKevitt appeal opens

Michael McKevitt, who is serving a 20-year sentence after becoming the first person in the 26 Counties to be convicted of the charge of “directing terrorist activities”, has begun a Supreme Court appeal against his conviction.

The charge was introduced after the ‘Real IRA’ bomb attack in Omagh in 1998 in which 29 people died.

McKevitt was convicted by the Special Criminal Court in 2003, largely on the evidence of FBI agent and controversial witness David Rupert. The judges stressed the offences did not relate to the Omagh bombing but related to a later period.

McKevitt said he did not get a fair trial because his legal team had not been supplied with all information in relation to a key witness, FBI agent David Rupert.

Rupert received the extraordinary remuneration of over two million dollars for his evidence against McKevitt. But he was also “a life-long criminal”, the Supreme Court was told this week.

When convicting Michael McKevitt, the non-jury Special Criminal Court had failed to address Mr Rupert’s past activities, counsel said, which included smuggling underage girls, drugs and weapons, as well as two separate fraud investigations.

His failure to be prosecuted for these activities and his later being signed up by the FBI were said to be relevant to the integrity of his motivation for giving evidence in the case against McKevitt.

McKevitt’s appeal to the Supreme Court also centres on issues concerning the disclosure of documents which were crucial to the case.

No schedule of documentation was ever presented to the defence and McKevitt’s lawyers got material relating to Mr Rupert’s alleged criminality “by chance or mistake”.

The omission of that material about Mr Rupert’s past activities should have been addressed, McKevitt has argued. Had the material been provided, it would have shown the secret services’ “attempt to mask” Mr Rupert’s alleged criminality.

The appeal continues next week.

NEW OMAGH REVIEW

A “panel of independent experts” is to be appointed by the Policing Board to carry out another review of the PSNI investigation into the 1998 Omagh bomb.

In December, south Armagh man Sean Hoey was cleared of the murders of all those killed in the Omagh bomb after it emerged two senior PSNI members had lied in an effort to frame him for the attack.

Michael Gallagher, a father whose son died in the blast said “the last thing Omagh needs is another review or investigation into the police investigation”.

Mr Gallagher added: “However, we have very little power in that and if there is going to be a review then it is important that any lessons that are learned are fed into the police system.

“But we feel that this cannot detract from our calls for a cross-border public inquiry.”

© 2008 Irish Republican News