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Monday, 2 October, 2000, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Police 'know' identities of bombers
Omagh bombing
Omagh devastation followed misleading bomb warnings
Omagh inquest day 16

The police officer leading the Omagh bombing investigation has told the inquest that he knows who planned and carried out the 1998 explosion which killed 29.

RUC Acting Assistant Chief Constable Eric Anderson said only one person had been charged in connection with the bombing.

But he said the investigation was "active and ongoing," with a large volume of work still to be done two years after the worst single act of violence in 30 years of Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Mr Anderson was giving evidence on the 16th day of the inquest into the deaths in the dissident republican Real IRA blast in the busy centre of the County Tyrone town on 15 August 1998.

Mr Anderson told the inquest that the massive police inquiry had seen 6,500 people interviewed, 3,500 homes and premises visited and 2,700 statements recorded.

Eighty-one arrests had been made - 58 by the Irish police and 23 by the RUC - in an effort to apprehend the bombers and "the godfathers who sent them out," he told coroner John Leckey.

'Northern Ireland input'

Mr Anderson said the bomb had originated in County Louth but that the fact that there had been arrests by the RUC indicated that there had been an input from Northern Ireland into the bombing.

He said those who left the bomb in Omagh had then telephoned others who made the bomb warning calls.

The inquest has already heard that shoppers were moved towards the car bomb on Market Street after misleading warnings were given.

He said one person had been charged in the Republic of Ireland with conspiracy to cause the explosion.

'North-south co-operation'

The officer said a report on another person had been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Irish Republic in relation to the theft of the car used in the bombing.

Asked if he was aware of who made up the entire team involved, he replied: "There is good background knowledge as a result of the investigation, that is correct."

He described the close liaison with police in the Irish Republic - the Garda Siochana - involving "full and frank" exchange of information. Members of the bomb squad in London had also lent their expertise, he said.

Mr Anderson was asked when there would be more arrests, but coroner John Leckey said that that question was irrelevant to the inquest.

Irish police Detective Superintendent Tadgh Foley attended the inquest, sitting in Omagh leisure centre, observing proceedings while Mr Anderson was in the witness box.

His presence came after it emerged last week that Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne, had refused to send officers to testify at the hearing, because of fears it may compromise the sole prosecution resulting from the investigation.

Earlier, Mr Leckey warned those entitled to question Mr Anderson against putting names of suspects to him.

"Nothing that happens at an inquest, which is a fact-finding forum only, should affect proceedings that could take place subsequently," Mr Leckey said.

Some of the families of those killed have legal representatives. Some are representing themselves.

Peace process
Understanding Northern Ireland
See also:

27 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
'Examine reaction to bomb warnings' - QC
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Death of toddler in bomb recalled
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Omagh blast ended young girls' hopes
19 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
'Never again' plead Omagh family
12 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Inquest visits Omagh bomb scene
11 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Constable describes Omagh scene
08 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh coroner rejects evidence call
07 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh inquest focuses on warnings
21 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh investigation under review
17 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Omagh families seek online justice
16 Aug 99 | UK
The day the clocks stopped
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