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Last Updated: Friday, 25 July, 2003, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
McKevitt refuses to leave cell
Michael McKevitt
Michael McKevitt denies all the charges

The alleged leader of the Real IRA refused to leave his cell when his trial for directing terrorism resumed at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

Michael McKevitt, 53, is the first person to appear at the Republic of Ireland's non-jury Special Criminal Court charged with directing terrorism.

The offence was one of a range of measures introduced by the Irish Government in the wake of the Omagh bombing in 1998.

On Friday, when the trial resumed, a prison officer gave evidence that Mr McKevitt was refusing to come up from the cells area and into the courtroom.

On Thursday, he sacked his legal team and the court ordered that the trial should continue. The judges also refused his request to absent himself from the trial.

They threw out a defence application to stop the trial and ruled it should continue with no retrial.

Mr McKevitt told the court he had been forced to sack his barristers following two failed attempts to have the hearing halted.

The three judges had rejected an attempt by the defence to stop the trial on the grounds that their case had been irreparably damaged due to the non-disclosure of crucial surveillance documents they claimed could have cleared the accused.

'Show trial'

But after all his legal representatives walked out of the courtroom Mr McKevitt stood up and said: "I will not participate any further in this political show trial and am now withdrawing myself with my dignity intact."

The County Louth businessman is also charged with membership of an illegal organisation. He denies the charges.

Mr McKevitt is one of five people the relatives of the victims of the Omagh bombing are taking a separate civil action against in Northern Ireland.

The Real IRA attack on 15 August 1998 killed 29 people, including a woman who was seven months pregnant with twins.

The Real IRA was formed after a split within the mainstream IRA. The dissident group is opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process.


SEE ALSO:
McKevitt dismisses legal team
24 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland



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