Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Cross-border court link for Omagh case makes history

Special Criminal Court
The Special Criminal Court in Dublin heard evidence via video link

Legal history was made on Wednesday when the Irish Special Criminal Court sat in Belfast via a live video link.

The court is sitting as part of the re-trial of Colm Murphy, 57, from Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Dundalk for his alleged role in the Omagh bombing.

It is the first time lawyers in the Irish Republic have been able to question witnesses giving evidence in a court in Northern Ireland.

29 people including a mother of unborn twins were killed in the 1998 bombing.

There were initial teething problems when the Special Criminal Court prosecutor complained his monitor was blank and that he could not see the witness.

The court heard evidence from one civilian witness and two retired police officers including Chief Superintendent Hamilton Houston who headed the initial investigation.

Senior counsel in the Republic, Tom O'Connell ended the link with a wave of his hand, telling the Special Criminal Court's panel of judges that "we've finished with Belfast".

The senior presiding judge in turn inquired of his opposite number in Belfast, "did you get that Belfast?", before thanking all involved.

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