Trial of Omagh bombing accused 'will go ahead'

THE trial of a man accused of murdering 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, in the Omagh bombing will go ahead, a prosecutor said.

Seamus Daly is charged with the 1998 Real IRA car bomb attack.

The case will focus on mobile phone evidence, barrister Michael Chambers told a court hearing in the Co Tyrone town.

Northern Ireland's director of public prosecutions made the decision after considering the evidence.

"The director has taken a decision that Mr Daly should be prosecuted, both for the Omagh bomb and Lisburn bomb and the charges associated with those two incidents," Mr Chambers said.

Daly faces 29 counts of murder after the device exploded in the centre of the town on a busy Saturday and killed shoppers from Ireland, Britain and Spain.

A woman pregnant with twins and nine children were among the dead.

The 44-year-old bricklayer from Kilnasaggart Road, Jonesborough, Co Armagh, also faces counts of causing the August 1998 explosion in Omagh and possession of a bomb

in the market town with intent to en-danger life or property.

He is further charged with conspiring to cause an explosion and having explosives with intent in connection with a separate dissident republican bomb plot in Lisburn, County Antrim, in April that year.

Victims of the Omagh bomb including Michael Gallagher, Stanley McComb and Godfrey Wilson were in court to hear whether the case would proceed.

A lawyer for Daly had claimed there was no case to answer.

Peter Corrigan said his client had been living openly in south Armagh at all times since 1999 and questioned why he could not be located to press charges in the "biggest murder trial in British criminal history".

Evidence is still being sought from the Garda about the worst atrocity of the Troubles but most of it has already been received, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) previously told Omagh Magistrates Court.

Mr Chambers said: "A large part of the evidence that relates to Mr Daly involves mobile phones and a substantial amount of that evidence is from the Republic of Ireland."

He said a substantial proportion of the material will be available within four to six weeks but said legal issues surrounding other more complex material will take three or four months to resolve.

He said he was confident that it will be possible to put together committal papers of evidence which would allow the matter to be taken to a higher court without the more complicated material.

"The police have sought a mobile phone report of their own from an expert that will be available shortly," Mr Chambers said.

Mr Corrigan said the evidence was "stale" and based on mobile phones.

"That evidence is in serious dispute and contention. The primary witness that the crown have put forward is Denis O'Connor. That person has perjured themselves in court," he said.

Daly was remanded in custody until March 10.

Mr Gallagher, whose son Aidan died in the blast, said: "We of course support the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Garda in their efforts to bring people to account for what happened at Omagh but they have had a very poor record."

A massive cross-border manhunt was launched after the bombing. No-one has ever been convicted in connection with the massacre.

Daly lived near the border before he was arrested at a retail centre car park in Newry in April.

He appeared before the court via video link from prison where he is being held pending trial.

* EVIDENCE: Seamus Daly


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