Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Monday, 8 June 2009 15:05 UK

Evidence in the Omagh civil case

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Michael McKevitt
Real IRA chief Michael McKevitt was found liable for the Omagh bomb

After a 14-month civil hearing, a judge in Belfast has ruled that four alleged members of the Real IRA - Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, Seamus Daly and Colm Murphy - were responsible for the 1998 Omagh bomb which killed 29 people and unborn twins.

The Real IRA as an organisation was also found to be responsible for the deaths.

A fifth man, Seamus McKenna, was cleared of liability.

Phone evidence

In his judgement, Mr Justice Morgan said that much of the police investigation at the time had been based on mobile phone evidence.

He said that records for mobile phones belonging to Murphy and one of his employees showed a series of calls between the phones on the day of the bombing.

The phone registered to Murphy showed "a clear direction of travel from Castleblayney, the general vicinity in which the bomb car was stolen, to Omagh."

The timing of the calls was consistent with the delivery of the bomb to the centre of Omagh, and the phones were also in the vicinity of the phone boxes which were used to make the warning calls.

Colm Murphy arriving at court on Friday
A phone used by Colm Murphy was used on the Omagh bomb run

Mr Justice Morgan said the "irresistible inference" was that the phone registered to Murphy and the phone used by his employee were the phones used in the Omagh bomb run.

He said he was satisfied that Murphy, who he described as an active member of the Continuity IRA, provided the phones "knowing full well the nature of the attack which was going to be conducted".

Mr Justice Morgan also found that a call was made from a phone owned by Seamus Daly and alleged to have been involved in the Omagh bomb on the afternoon of the attack.

FBI agent

Much of the evidence against the respondents was based on the recorded testimony of David Rupert, an FBI agent who infiltrated the Real IRA after the Omagh bomb.

He, and a Garda inspector, was able to identify Michael McKevitt as a representative of the Real IRA known as "Karl".

Liam Campbell
A FBI agent said Liam Campbell was a member of the Real IRA

Mr Justice Morgan concluded that McKevitt "held and has always held a significant leadership role within the Real IRA which is reflected by the fact that he was certainly its leader in August 1999.

"In his leadership role he was undoubtedly responsible for encouraging the campaign of bombing in 1998 which culminated in the Omagh bomb and the availability of the materials to prepare that bomb could only have occurred with this support and approval."

The judge also said he drew the inference that the policy decision to reduce the amount of time available to locate and defuse bombs was instigated or approved by McKevitt in his leadership position.

Mr Rupert also testified that Liam Campbell had been introduced to him as a member of the Real IRA's Army Council

Real IRA

The Real IRA as an organisation was also found to be responsible for the attack.

Seamus Daly
Seamus Daly was also found to be liable for the bomb

The court heard that the 'Martha Pope' codeword which was used in the Omagh bomb was also used in relation to car bombs in Lisburn, Armagh and Banbridge in 1998.

Mr Justice Morgan said it was "of some significance" that after the defusing of the Lisburn and Armagh car bombs the period of time between the receipt of the warning and the explosion was reduced.

He said this was evidence of a deliberate policy to reduce the amount of time available to police to attempt to prevent the explosion and its consequences.

The judge said he was "satisfied to a very high degree" that the Real IRA were responsible for the Omagh bomb.

He concluded that those who were members of the Army Council of the Real IRA in August 1998 bear responsibility for directing the Omagh bomb as part of the campaign that was being waged at that time, and are therefore liable.

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