Omagh bombing FBI agent is a 'liar', court told

The 1998 explosion killed 29 people and unborn twins The 1998 explosion killed 29 people and unborn twins

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An appeal hearing by four dissident republicans held liable for the Omagh bombing has heard an FBI agent who gave evidence during the case is a "liar".

Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Seamus Daly and Colm Murphy were successfully sued by 12 victims' relatives, who were awarded £1.6m compensation last June.

The men started proceedings at the Court of Appeal on Monday.

The court heard that an FBI agent, whose evidence was used in the case, is a "pathological liar".

Lawyers for Michael McKevitt told the court that he would advance 16 grounds of appeal, most of which relate to the evidence of American FBI operative David Rupert.

Mr Rupert was first recruited by the FBI to infiltrate Irish dissident republican ranks. He went into the witness box to testify against Michael McKevitt at his criminal trial in Dublin in 2003, at which he was convicted of directing terrorism.

However, he never gave evidence at the Omagh civil action.

Defence counsel Michael O'Higgins said because David Rupert had not given evidence in person, the trial judge had not been able to hear the direct evidence and lawyers for Michael McKevitt had not been able to cross-examine Mr Rupert.

He said the judge in the civil action had not taken account of arguments that Mr Rupert was ''a confidence trickster and a pathological liar".

Allegations of mortgage fraud and lying under oath were given to back up Mr O'Higgins' claims.

'Tainted'

He claimed that the agent's non-appearance was treated as lacking significance, while for Michael McKevitt the consequences were "catastrophic".

Mr O'Higgins said the evidence was circumstantial, the findings of the court were tainted and the end result was flawed.

As the appeal began, Stanley McComb, whose wife Ann was one of the 29 people to die in the 1998 atrocity, was in court to represent the victims' families.

Other relatives could not be with him because they were attending the funeral of the father of Geraldine Breslin, who also lost her life at Omagh.

Mr McComb added: "It's been a long 12 years for us, of listening to what's been said and what's been done."

Referring to submissions by the dissidents' lawyers, he added: "The names of people crop up in it that you don't want to hear their names because it does make you angry.

"They are portrayed as being the good guys by their legal teams."

The latest legal challenge over the case at the Court of Appeal could last up to two weeks.

No-one has ever been convicted in a criminal court of causing the deaths of the Omagh victims.

The only man to face criminal charges over the Omagh killings, Sean Hoey from Jonesborough in south Armagh, was acquitted in 2007.

The families brought the multi-million pound civil action in an attempt to bring fresh information about the atrocity to light.

None of the men sued has the capacity to pay out any kind of large-scale payment.

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