'SHOW TRIAL' CONVICTION OVERTURNED
The only man convicted over the 1998 'Real IRA' Omagh bomb has
had his conviction overturned, while two Garda police detectives
are to be tried for perjury.
Colm Murphy was sentenced to 14 years over the attack, which
claimed 31 lives but remains mired in controversy and confusion
over the motives and actions of police on both sides of the
Mr Murphy won an appeal against his conviction on Friday and was
released on bail pending a retrial on the same charges.
Meanwhile, Detective Garda John Fahy and Detective Garda Liam
Donnelly were charged with falsely swearing evidence.
The detectives were one of three teams that questioned Mr Murphy
over the 1998 bomb which exploded in the County Tyrone town,
despite warnings from the breakaway republican group.
The trial judges said that the two gardai had been "guilty of
patent falsification" in evidence by denying that notes of an
interview with Mr Murphy were altered.
The Appeal Court found the trial judges had not considered the
possible contamination of other Garda evidence.
It also found that an "invasion of the presumption of innocence"
regarding Mr Murphy's previous convictions had tainted the
Mr Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was among the 29 people
killed, said the families of the victims were "shocked and
"There must be questions that the court service, the Government
and the gardai have to answer," he said.
"It seems only a full public cross-border public inquiry will
uncover the truth."
The Republican Sinn Fein vice-president, Des Dalton, said:
"Republican Sinn Fein welcomes the Dublin Court of Criminal
Appeal's quashing today of Colm Murphy's conviction and 14-year
sentence by the non-jury Special Criminal Court.
"The fact that the non-jury Special Criminal Court was willing
to convict Colm Murphy based on evidence which it is unlikely
would have been accepted by a conventional court, as well as
infringing his right to presumption of innocence, highlights the
assault on basic human and civil rights which the non-jury
Special Court and the draconian Offences Against the State Act
"In its most recent observations on the 26-county State's human
rights record in 2000," Mr Dalton added, "the UN Human Rights
Committee called on the Dublin Government to dismantle the
non-jury Special Criminal Court. Despite this, the Dublin
Government announced in December that it intended opening a
second non-jury Special Criminal Court."
Meanwhile, there have been calls for a secret 26-County
government report on Garda actions at the time of the Omagh bomb
to be made public.
The Nally report was suppressed by order of the Minister for
Justice, Michael McDowell. He claimed the report had not
supported allegations by a garda, Det Sgt John White, that a
"Real IRA" informer alerted him before the 1998 attack about
car which was to be used in a bombing.
Detective White said he passed the warning on to a senior
officer but it was not used to prevent the bombing. Instead,
White faced charges of attempting to pervert the course of
justice and three of making false statements.
In February, Mr McDowell promised to make an edited copy of the
report public after the case against Det Sgt White was dealt
White was acquitted on Tuesday at Letterkenny Circuit Court.