IRA man acquitted in retrial

2010-02-25 15:01
Dublin – The only man ever convicted of involvement in the 1998 car-bomb slaughter in Omagh was acquitted on Wednesday in a retrial judgment that angered the survivors of Northern Ireland's deadliest blast.

The three judges of Ireland's anti-terrorist Special Criminal Court ruled that police had failed to collect sufficient evidence against Colm Murphy, 57 – and had fatally undermined their case by illegally rewriting their records of Murphy's alleged admissions under interrogation.

Murphy, an Irish Republican Army veteran once caught in an FBI sting trying to buy American machine guns, said outside the courthouse that he was "glad to see it's all over".

Nobody has been successfully prosecuted for the August 15 1998 attack by the Real IRA splinter group in the heart of Omagh.

Twenty-nine people, mostly women and children, died after the 225kg car bomb ripped through crowds of shoppers, workers and tourists whom police had evacuated away from the town's courthouse, thinking it was the target.

Michael Gallagher, who lost his only son in the bombing, watched Murphy's acquittal with what he described as a mixture of familiar sadness and long-buried fury.

Disappointed

"The families have been disappointed time and time again, but when it happens it is still hard," said Gallagher, who attended Wednesday's court hearing. "I think this is the first time in years I feel angry."

He noted that the British and Irish governments repeatedly vowed following the Omagh atrocity to catch and punish the bombers, and then-US president Bill Clinton visited the scene to offer American support – yet justice has never come.

Instead, judges on both sides of the Irish border have blamed detectives for bungling their investigations.

Police in the British territory of Northern Ireland tried to convict Murphy's nephew Sean Hoey of manufacturing several Real IRA bombs, including the one used in Omagh. But that case collapsed in 2007 when a Belfast judge rejected the forensic evidence as unreliable.

Cellphone records

The main evidence against Murphy was the records of two cellphones, which were tracked crossing the Irish border to Omagh and back on the day of the attack. He received a 14-year sentence in 2002 – even though the judges in that trial denounced two of the detectives who interrogated Murphy for lying on the witness stand.

Murphy's lawyers successfully appealed the conviction three years later by demonstrating that the two detectives had rewritten their notes of Murphy's alleged statements in custody. Ireland's Court of Criminal Appeal freed Murphy on bail and ordered a retrial.

Labour Party justice spokesperson Pat Rabbitte said it was "bitterly disappointing", but not surprising, that Murphy won his retrial because of the detectives' shoddy work.

"The lesson that must be learned is that, even in the investigation of the most heinous offences, investigating officers must remain within the law and there can be no short cuts to convictions," Rabbitte said.

Landmark lawsuit


Last year, Murphy was one of four alleged IRA dissidents who lost a landmark lawsuit in Belfast filed by 12 relatives of the Omagh dead.

He and three other men convicted of dissident IRA activities were ordered to pay the victims £1.6m (more than $2.5m), but they are appealing the judgment.

Murphy has served three prison sentences in Ireland and the US for activities in the outlawed IRA and its breakaway factions.

In 1983, he was caught in an FBI sting operation while trying to buy US Army M60 heavy machine guns from an undercover officer. He served half of a five-year sentence before being deported back to Ireland.

- AP
Read more on:    ireland
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

10 ways to drive her wild!

Fill her nights with passion and drive her wild with the best sex ever!

 
 

Men24.com

Hottie of the day: Angela
10 things you should never say after sex
Guy code: Looking good for the ladies
SA surfer rides massive waves in Maui

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong desire to be unique, self sufficient, right and in control today. Your mind is fast today and you may have the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.