Irish Republican News · October 24, 2010
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRA trial collapses

An IRA trial dramatically collapsed yesterday after top secret documents which reveal that an alleged MI5 agent orchestrated a bombing campaign were withheld from the defence.

East Belfast man Anton Gerard Craig was due to go on trial later this year charged with planting an incendiary device in an outlet of Smyth's chain store.

Mr Craig was charged after it was claimed his mobile phone had been used close to the store shortly before the attack. He was 22 years old at the time and of athletic build -- but eyewitnesses described the man responsible as in his mid-forties to earlyfifties, chubby faced with rough skin and a ruddy complexion.

The university student, who now lives in Derry, dramatically walked free from court after prosecutors unexpectedly announced that all charges were being dropped.

In a highly unusual move, prosecution lawyer David Russell refused to state the reasons why the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) had abandoned the bomb charges.

However, trial judge Tom Burgess has now ordered a private hearing on November 1, after Mr Craig's defence barrister Greg Berry QC argued that prosecutors should be compelled to reveal the reasons for abandoning the case.

Outside the court Mr Craig's lawyer Niall Murphy said his client maintained that he had been framed by an "agent of the state" who had personally orchestrated the two-year Real IRA bombing campaign.

It has been widely alleged that the MI5 agent is former Ballymena dissident spokesman Paddy Murray.

Mr Craig is understood to have claimed that he had loaned his telephone to Murray on the night of the attacks.

Murray has been in hiding since October 2007 after the PSNI informed him he was about to be killed by the Real IRA as an informer.

In January 2008 he was implicated in another Real IRA bomb trial which also dramatically collapsed without explanation after defence barristers demanded that prosecutors admit his role as a Crown force agent.

Prosecutors obtained a Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate [gagging order] to prevent Murray being publicly identified in court as an agent.

* A County Kildare man arrested during Garda investigations into republicans was cleared of IRA membership by the Special Criminal Court. The only evidence presented against John O'Reilly was the claim by Gardai that Mr O'Reilly admitted IRA membership while smoking a cigarette during a break in interrogation at Lucan Garda station in 2009.

* A prominent Tyrone republican facing charges related to a mortgage is to take his fight to be tried by a jury to Britain's highest court. In a landmark challenge Brian Arthurs and his wife are attempting to quash a decision that their case should go before a non-jury Diplock court. A panel of High Court judges dismissed their judicial review application earlier this year.

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