Hired US spy ‘not credible’
Hired US spy ‘not credible’

FBI agent and supergrass David Rupert was “a deeply avaricious man” whose evidence should not have been given credibility in the trial of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, appeal judges heard yesterday.

Rupert had posed as a major US supporter of Irish republicanism and testified that he had observed McKevitt to be the leader of the breakaway militant group. His was the only evidence presented at the special non-jury trial.

McKevitt’s counsel Michael O’Higgins SC submitted that the verdict brought in by the Special Criminal Court was flawed.

He said that the court had fallen into a very substantial error in dealing with Mr Rupert’s evidence during the McKevitt trial.

“As far as money goes, the end justifies the means. Such a witness should be treated with a degree of caution.”

McKevitt was jailed for 20 years by the Special Criminal Court in August 2003 after he was convicted of “directing the activities of a terrorist organisation”.

He was the first person to be convicted in the state for the offence which was introduced after the 1998 Omagh bomb attack in which 29 people died.

McKevitt also received a six year concurrent prison sentence for membership of an illegal organisation which the court said was the Real IRA.

McKevitt was in court for the appeal which was also attended by his wife Bernadette Sands McKevitt.

Mr O’Higgins said that any information which seemed to cast doubt of Mr Rupert’s credibility was clearly of great significance and it was their case that the Special Criminal Court had failed to grasp that.

Mr O’Higgins said that Mr Rupert, in his own words during the trial, had described himself as “a whore for money”.

He said Mr Rupert had been paid around $1.4 million by the FBI and up to #400,000 by the British Security Service.

Earlier Mc Kevitt’s other counsel, Mr Hugh Hartnett SC, told the Court of Criminal Appeal that the system of disclosure adopted by the British Security Service misled the court as well as the prosecution and defence.

Mr Hartnett said that issues relating to the criminality of FBI agent David Rupert who was the chief prosecution witness against McKevitt has been raised by the defence but there had been an attempt by the British Security Service to deliberately sanitise embarrassing documentation relating to him.

The appeal continues.

* A top unionist paramilitary was charged yesterday with blackmail, intimidation and money laundering.

Andre ‘the Greek’ Shoukri, the UDA ‘brigadier’ in north Belfast, pleaded not guilty to the charges at Belfast Magistrates Court tofday. He appeared in court alongside William Boreland after being arrested earlier this week following a series of raids in the city.

  • Three people were lucky to escape injury after a pipe-bomb attack on their County Antrim home yesterday.

    The mother and her 22-year-old son and 17-year-old daughter were in the house in the Dunvale area of Ballymena when the bomb exploded at around 1.30am.

    The blast caused extensive damage to the front of the house.

    It was the second time the house had been targeted in the past five weeks. No one was injured when petrol bombers attacked the house in September.

  • Posters have appeared in nearby Ahoghill stating that Gaelic Athletics sports jerseys were not welcome in the village.

    It is the latest manifestation of a unionist campaign in recent months to force all Catholics and nationalists from the town, including pipe bombs and paint bombs.

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