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Omagh bomb accused cleared in retrial

The only man ever convicted over the Omagh bombing was cleared today following a retrial.

Colm Murphy was found guilty of conspiracy to cause the 1998 Real IRA atrocity which killed 29 people and injured more than 300 but later cleared on appeal.

The builder, who was facing a retrial at the non-jury Special Criminal Court in Dublin, walked free today after three judges ruled there was no evidence with which he could be convicted.

Murphy, a 57-year-old native of Co Armagh, with an address at Jordan's Corner, Ravensdale, Co Louth, had pleaded not guilty to conspiring with another person to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in the State or elsewhere between August 13 and 16 1998.

Omagh campaigner Michael Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Aiden was murdered in the bombing, said today's development came as a further blow to bereaved families.

"It has been the history of this process that the families have been disappointed time and time again, but when it happens it is still hard," he said.

"But I think this is the first time in years I feel angry."

He said of the Omagh attack: "These people seem to be so elusive to authorities on both sides of the border.

"This is a crime that the Taoiseach, the Prime Minister and the President of the United States took an interest in.

"If this can't be solved what hope is there for other crimes?"

Mr Gallagher said that, despite the authorities pledging that no stone would be left unturned in the search for the killers, the families believed that the only satisfaction they had received was through their own civil case.

"We have had empty promises both publicly and privately from Government ministers," he said.

"I feel that, even more than ever, there is a justification for a full cross-border public inquiry so the families can get closure.

"That is the least the Governments can do for us."

Last June, relatives of the Omagh bomb victims won a landmark civil action against four men they blamed for the attack. Murphy was one of them.

The others - former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, Liam Campbell, who is on trial in Lithuania over a plot to buy arms for the terror group, and Seamus Daly - were found to be responsible for the bombing by a judge in a landmark civil case brought by victims' families at Belfast High Court.

A fifth man accused by the relatives, Seamus McKenna, was cleared of any liability in the case.

But Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, ruled today that the evidence relating to interviews by members of An Garda Siochana with Murphy was inadmissible.

The Supreme Court previously found notes by two of the interviewing gardai had been falsified, leading to a quashing of Mr Murphy's first conviction.

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