McKevitt case for Supreme Court

Republican hardliner Michael McKevitt has been given leave to go to the Supreme Court in a fresh bid to challenge his controversial non-jury conviction for ‘directing terrorism’.

McKevitt’s legal team was allowed to bring a Section 29 application - a point of law of exceptional public importance - to the Supreme Court.

Justice Nicholas Kearns, presiding at the Court of Criminal Appeal, allowed the new hearing on the issue of disclosure.

The defence had sought disclosure of the US tax returns of the main prosecution witness in McKevitt’s case, highly-paid FBI informer David Rupert, but this had been denied.

The Supreme Court will now hear arguments on whether the obligations of disclosure by the prosecution in a criminal trial were fulfilled when the pivotal issue is the credibility of the witness [Rupert] from outside the jurisdiction.

Last December the Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed McKevitt’s appeal against his conviction, ruling that all matters relating to disclosure in the trial were properly dealt with by the court.

McKevitt was jailed for 20 years by the non-jury Special Criminal Court in August 2003, largely on Rupert’s word. He was the first person to be convicted for the offence of ‘directing terrorism’ which was introduced after the Real IRA bomb attack in Omagh.

* Meanwhile, Louth man Colm Murphy has brought High Court proceedings in Dublin aimed at stopping his retrial on conspiracy charges connected with the Omagh attack.

Murphy was freed on bail last year after the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed his conviction and called for prosecutions of perjury against two Gardai in the case.

The retrial is scheduled to open before the Special Criminal on January 11 but may be delayed because of the judicial review challenge.

Murphy said the systemic delay in the case has prejudiced his right to a fair and speedy trial.

* A County Armagh man who made a false confession after being beaten in police custody has had his conviction quashed.

Paschal Mulholland was only 16-years-old when he was arrested following a petrol-bomb attack on Portadown RUC barracks in October 1976.

Despite being a minor, he was denied access to his parents or a solicitor until he signed a confession stating he was a member of the IRA junior wing - Fianna na hEireann.

After being held for 40 hours, the teenager finally put his name to the statement. During the course of the RUC interviews he was repeatedly beaten.

A doctor later concluded that “he [Mulholland] was struck a severe blow with the closed fist [right] to the left side of the nose - the force of this knocked the right cheek area against a table. His nose was now bleeding from a abrasion and one officer dipped a tissue in cold water and cleaned up the wound”.

Another doctor found Mr Mulholland “suffered significant physical abuse” and that the explanations given by the RUC for his injuries were not “medically acceptable”.

The RUC men who attacked Mr Mulholland claimed he had accidentally hit his nose off a table in the interview room.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News