Irish Republican News · January 13, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Omagh civil judgement appealed

An appeal is underway againt the civil court decision to find Michael McKevitt and three other dissident republicans liable for the 1998 Omagh bomb.

A sitting at Belfast High Court yesterday heard lawyers for McKevitt, currently serving 20 years in Portlaoise Prison for ‘directing terrorism’, and the others had 16 grounds of appeal against last year’s court action which awarded damages of 1.6m pounds to victims’ families.

No-one has ever been convicted in a criminal court of causing the 1998 bombing in which 29 people died. It later emerged that state agents were involved in organising the attack, which was closely monitored by ‘security forces’. The British government has refused repeated appeals by the families of the victims to hold a public inquiry into the tragedy.

Opening what has been listed as a two-week case, Michael O’Higgins SC representing Michael McKevitt attacked the credibility of the trucking boss turned FBI spy who claimed to have infiltrated the ‘Real IRA’.

David Rupert, who is currently in a witness protection programme after appearing as a key prosecution witness in the criminal trial of McKevitt in Dublin in 2000, was forbidden from attending the civil action for health and security reasons. But more than 900 emails between the spy and his handlers were submitted as evidence.

Yesterday Mr O’Higgins said 12 of his grounds of appeal related to Mr Rupert.

‘David Rupert was a pathological liar, confidence trickster and a man who very strongly engaged in serial perjury,’ Mr O’Higgins told the court.

He also said his solicitor had hired a private detective and found Mr Rupert to be ‘living openly’.

Mr O’Higgins also said the decision for his client not to take the stand during the civil action had been ‘catastrophic to his case’, while Mr Rupert’s unavailability gave the families an ‘artificial advantage’.

‘The judge was denied the opportunity of hearing Mr Rupert and Mr McKevitt was denied an opportunity of even having a cross- examination of him, and we say failure to take account of these points being made rendered the ultimate decision made flawed,’ he said.

The senior barrister, who travelled from Dublin for yesterday’s hearing, said he would be outlining ‘inconsistencies and contradictions’ in the civil case judgment during his three days of submissions pledging to go through the original judgment ‘if not slavishly then very, very closely’ in an effort to show the judge had not adequately considered the defence case.

‘We are here to make arguments that the findings of the court are tainted,’ he added.

‘It is a fact that Mr Rupert has told lies all his life but this is not seen as significant,’ added the senior barrister.

Mr O’Higgins also said there was evidence to conclude that David Rupert, who received significant payment from the FBI for his testimony, would do just about anything for money.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News