UK & World News
Omagh Bombing: Two Blamed By Civil Court
Two men have been found liable for the Omagh bombing following a landmark civil action at Belfast High Court.
Republicans Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly have been confirmed to be responsible for the Northern Ireland atrocity after having attempted to overturn a lawsuit taken out by some of the victims.
Murphy and Daly had been ordered to face a retrial after they successfully appealed a finding of liability against them in the original case in Belfast High Court.
But their second trial delivered the same outcome in the same court, with judge Mr Justice John Gillen ruling the men were responsible for the 1998 Real IRA atrocity.
Twenty-nine people, including a woman pregnant with twins, died when the dissident republican car bomb ripped through the Co Tyrone market town on August 15, 1998. More than 200 were injured in the blast.
Murphy was tried and convicted in the Irish criminal courts but was released after it was revealed that the Garda?orged interview notes used in the case.
Because no-one was successfully convicted of the bombing, in 2009 some of the bereaved families took out a civil case against four people accused of the attack.
Murphy, a builder and publican from Dundalk, Co Louth, and Daly, a bricklayer from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, along with Real IRA chief Michael McKevitt and Co Louth republican Liam Campbell were held responsible.
The men were ordered to pay £1.6m in damages.
McKevitt, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence in the Irish Republic for directing terrorism, and Campbell, who recently successfully fought extradition proceedings to Lithuania on arms smuggling charges, failed in their bids to overturn the Omagh civil judgment.
They are now seeking to have their case heard in the European Court of Human Rights.
Murphy and Daly successfully appealed but both men were ordered to face another trial. The retrial started in January and finished last month, with Mr Justice Gillen delivering his reserved judgment today, confirming the men were responsible.
The bombing killed people from a variety of different backgrounds including Protestants, Catholics, a Mormon teenager, five other teenagers, six children, a woman pregnant with twins and several tourists.
The nature of the bombing - described as Northern Ireland's worst terrorist attack - created a huge international outcry and added to the impetus of the peace process.
Neither defendant was in court for the judgment. Both men also declined to give evidence during the trial.
Mr Justice Gillen said the case against them, which was primarily based on mobile phone evidence, was "overwhelming".
The judge said he had drawn a negative inference from their failure to provide any explanation in court.
"Given the strength and quality of the evidence, I have determined that both defendants were involved in assisting the preparation, planting and detonation of the bomb in circumstances where those involved in assisting those acts would be joint tortfeasors (individuals who committed a wrongful act injuring another person)," he said.
Representing the families, Lord Brennan QC said the bereaved relatives were determined that the damages would be paid.
"Enforcement will be pursued with vigour here and in other relevant jurisdiction," he said.
Solicitor for the families Matthew Jury said the Omagh bombers had not furthered any cause.
"It was a massacre of the innocent that left a scar on families, their community and their country that has not healed," he said.
"By bringing this civil action, their victims showed that they will not beintimidated and that justice will be done."