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Friday, 23 August, 2002, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Omagh 'accused' to contest action
The scene of the Omagh bomb
The Omagh bomb left 29 people dead
Two men who were served with civil writs accusing them of carrying out the Omagh bombing are to contest the case brought against them.

Solicitors acting for Liam Campbell and Michael McKevitt lodged papers with the High Court in Belfast declaring their intention to defend themselves.

Last month families of those who died in the 1998 bombing issued writs against five men seeking compensation.

Twenty-nine men, women and children died and hundreds were injured when the Real IRA detonated a car bomb in the County Tyrone town on 15 August 1998 - a Saturday when the centre was full of shoppers.


It would have been very flat with just our side but this will make for a very interesting case

Michael Gallagher Victim's father

The hearing is expected to go ahead next year once all the paperwork is completed.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was killed in the blast, welcomed the action.

"This is what we want," he said.

"It would have been very flat with just our side but this will make for a very interesting case.

"Both sides have a right to tell their story and we are putting our faith in the justice system."

Lawyers representing the two men refused to comment on the action.

Portlaoise prison County Laois, Republic of Ireland
Michael McKevitt and Liam Campbell are being detained at Portlaoise prison in the Irish Republic

Earlier this year, Colm Murphy, 49, received a 14-year jail sentence for plotting to cause an explosion at the time of the Omagh bomb.

He is the only person convicted in connection with the bombing.

The five were given 14 days to respond, but so far only McKevitt and Campbell have indicated their intention to appear in court.

Both men are being held in Portlaoise Prison in the Irish Republic on terrorist offences unconnected with Omagh.

They accepted the writs when a lawyer went to their cells last month, but Murphy, who is also being held there, refused.

Assets

A memorandum of appearance was lodged with the High Court on behalf of the men earlier this month.

A statement issued on Friday on behalf of the Omagh Victims' Legal Trust and their solicitors, said they looked foward to seeing the defendants face justice.

Now the writs are served, a court hearing in Belfast will follow which will allow solicitors representing the families to present evidence which they believe connects the suspects to the attack.

The 500lb car bomb was the single worst attack in Northern Ireland in over 30 years of the Troubles.

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
Omagh relatives spokesperson Michael Gallagher:
"We hope that the other three defendants will engage also"
Click here for the full special report

Ombudsman report

Bomb trial verdict

Archive - the blast:

PANORAMA
See also:

26 Jul 02 | N Ireland
25 Jul 02 | N Ireland
20 Feb 02 | N Ireland
28 Oct 00 | N Ireland
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