Page last updated at 14:34 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Terror suspects 'recorded by MI5'

Justice scales

Security forces recorded 190 hours of conversations involving three dissident republican suspects facing terror charges, Belfast Crown Court has heard.

The three were arrested in an MI5 sting targeting alleged dissident gun smuggling from May 2005 and June 2006.

In court were Lurgan men Paul Anthony McCaugherty 43, Desmond Paul Kearns, 44, and Crossmaglen man Dermot Declan Gregory, aka Michael Dermot, 41.

Thirty-three security forces personnel are seeking to testify anonymously.

A pre-trial application to allow them to give evidence from behind screens will be heard in February.

A Crown lawyer said getting statements from the agents "could take some time" because a number of them were involved in various unspecified duties.

Mr McCaugherty, 43, of Beech Court and Desmond Paul Kearns, 44 of Tannaghmore Green deny conspiring to possess firearms and explosives.

Mr McCaugherty and Mr Gregory, from Concession Road, Crossmaglen, are denying entering into an arrangement to make the deeds of a restaurant in Portugal available for the purposes of terrorism.

Mr McCaugherty is also denying using 46,000 euros for the purposes of terrorism in Bruges in Belgium and in Amsterdam in Holland.

The trial is expected to last up to 10 weeks and is scheduled to start next April.

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