Belfast Telegraph

Omagh relatives demand answers on trial acquittal

Relatives of some victims of the Omagh bomb are seeking a meeting with a former member of the Police Ombudsman's office who was called in to investigate after the acquittal of the only man charged with the atrocity.

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan was among the 29 people killed in the August 1998 attack by the Real IRA and who had talks in Belfast yesterday with Al Hutchinson, said afterwards: "Many questions remain unanswered."

The probe followed the trial of Sean Hoey, an electrician from Jonesborough, south Armagh, who was found not guilty in December 2007 of the murders at the end of a marathon trial in Belfast.

The Ombudsman's senior investigations officer was called in after the then PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde referred issues of concern which emerged during Hoey's trial to the Ombudsman's Office. They involved statements made by a policeman and a scene of crime officer, as well as issues arising from inquires at a crime scene at Altmore forest, near Cappagh, Co Tyrone, which was also linked to the Omagh bomb. The families are still pressing for a full cross-border inquiry and are hoping to get the backing of the human rights organisation British Irish Rights Watch, which is sending a representative to Omagh today.

They are also to discuss in detail the report prepared by the senior investigating officer following Hoey's acquittal.

They met with Mr Hutchinson for an hour-and-a-half at his office yesterday and said they are looking to return within the next four to six weeks.

Mr Gallagher, who was accompanied by Stanley McCombe, whose wife Ann was killed, and Edith White, whose husband Fred and son Brian also died, said: "The families need answers. It is important we continue to seek clarity with regards to this particular investigation."

Background

The Omagh bombing was carried out by the Real IRA on a busy Saturday afternoon in August 1998. Twenty-nine people died as a result of the attack and approximately 220 people were injured. The victims included Protestants, Catholics, six children, a woman pregnant with twins, two Spanish children on holiday and tourists from the Republic.

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