Northern Ireland

PSNI murder plot witnesses citing 'national security'

Colin Duffy Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Colin Duffy, 51, is accused of preparing and directing terrorism and being in the IRA

A defence lawyer in the trial of three men allegedly recorded secretly by MI5, has said he felt "some disquiet" about prosecution witnesses.

They cited "national security" as a reason not to answer him, he told a court on Monday.

But they did answer similar questions from the prosecution, he claimed.

Colin Duffy, 51, Henry Fitzsimons, 50, and Alex McCrory, 57, deny preparing and directing terrorism and IRA membership.

Mr Fitzsimons and Mr McCrory also deny attempting to murder police officers and possessing two AK47 assault rifles and ammunition allegedly used in the north Belfast shooting on 5 December 2013.

The judge told defence counsel that his point had been "noted".

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Harry Fitzsimons, 50, is accused of attempting to murder members of the PSNI

In court on Monday, the defence lawyer said prosecution witnesses refused to answer questions about equipment used in covert operations; what notes had been made and whether notebooks were sequential.

His comments followed the prosecution's re-examination of a former police witness about a "video camera" used at Forest Glade, Lurgan.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Alex McCrory, 57, is accused of attempting to murder members of the PSNI

The witness had initially told a prosecution lawyer that he set up a video camera "on a date prior to 6 December 2013 in an operation codenamed 'Idealistic'" and later removed it.

However, when the defence asked the retired detective questions about a camera or cameras, he replied: "I can't answer that question on the grounds of national security". He did admit that the device or devices had been camouflaged.

The case, which is sitting without a jury in the Diplock-style trial, continues.

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