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Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Officer's pledge over Omagh
The scene of the Omagh bomb
The Omagh bomb left 29 people dead
The police officer in charge of the Omagh bomb inquiry has said he shares the frustration of the victims' relatives that those behind it have not been caught.

Thursday marks the fourth anniversary of the Real IRA attack on the County Tyrone town.

Twenty-nine men, women and children died and hundreds were injured when a car bomb exploded on Saturday 15 August 1998 - as the town was full of shoppers.

Detective Superintendent Norman Baxter said he remained determined to bring those responsible to justice.

Detective Superintendent Norman Baxter
Detective Superintendent Norman Baxter: 'Distressing that murders still walking free'

Mr Baxter also urged Sinn Fein to use its influence to encourage people with information to come forward.

"I think that even at this stage they should examine that position bearing in mind that 29 people died including 12 children and young people," he said.

"They should consider that position and look at their conscience and say: 'Is it right that people who murdered 29 people should not fear their community, not fear people in that community and have the confidence that people in that community are not going to come forward and give evidence?'

"I think Sinn Fein have a responsibility, particularly when they have support and influence in the south Armagh/Dundalk area."


The Omagh bombers would have relied on a network of supporters to provide transport, acquire equipment, provide safe houses and wash clothes to destroy evidence

Norman Baxter
Detective superintendent

The leading officer said anyone who helped the Omagh bomb gang avoid capture should examine their conscience and break their silence.

"The Omagh bombers would have relied on a network of supporters to provide transport, acquire equipment, provide safe houses and wash clothes to destroy evidence.

"These people should examine their conscience."

Mitchel McLaughlin of Sinn Fein said Sinn Fein had condemned the Omagh atrocity "in unambiguous terms".

"We made it clear that the families were entitled to justice," he said.

"Sinn Fein does not run any campaign dissuading people from giving information. But the facts speak for themselves."

Original inquiry

Meanwhile, a second family of an Omagh bomb victim is to join a legal action against the government and police over claims that the atrocity could have been prevented.

The family, who haven't been named, are joining the legal move launched by Laurence Rush, whose wife Elizabeth was killed in the blast four years ago.

Last month, solicitors acting for the relatives went to a prison in the Republic of Ireland to serve writs on three men they accuse of involvement in the atrocity.

Writs were also left at the homes near Dundalk in County Louth of two other men alleged to have been involved in the 1998 attack.

The action is being taken on behalf of the Omagh Victims Legal Trust and is the first step in a civil case against the five men.

Last August, the families' solicitors issued writs at the High Court in Belfast against the suspects and the Real IRA claiming damages.

The families then had 12 months to actually serve the writs on the five men.

Those named can ignore the civil legal action but the families can proceed with their case in open court.

If the court rules in favour of the families, the suspects face losing their personal assets.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Karen Atkinson:
"Sinn Fein have been urged to use their influence"
Detective Superintendent Norman Baxter:
"There is a great sense of hurt in Omagh that no one has been brought before the courts"
Click here for the full special report

Ombudsman report

Bomb trial verdict

Archive - the blast:

PANORAMA
See also:

26 Jul 02 | N Ireland
26 Jul 02 | N Ireland
25 Jul 02 | N Ireland
25 Apr 02 | N Ireland
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