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Omagh accused's trial will go ahead and focus on phone calls, court hears

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Seamus Daly is to stand trial for the murder of 29 people who died when the Co Tyrone town of Omagh was bombed in August 1998

Seamus Daly is to stand trial for the murder of 29 people who died when the Co Tyrone town of Omagh was bombed in August 1998

Seamus Daly is to stand trial for the murder of 29 people who died when the Co Tyrone town of Omagh was bombed in August 1998

The trial of a man accused of murdering 29 people in the Omagh bombing will go ahead, a prosecutor said.

Seamus Daly is charged with the 1998 Real IRA car bomb attack. The case will focus on mobile phone evidence, barrister Michael Chambers told a court hearing in the Co Tyrone town yesterday.

Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory made the decision after considering the evidence.

Mr Chambers said: "The director has taken a decision that Mr Daly should be prosecuted, both for the Omagh bomb and Lisburn bomb and the charges associated with those two incidents."

Daly faces 29 counts of murder after the device exploded in the centre of the town on a busy Saturday and killed shoppers from Ireland, Britain and Spain. A woman pregnant with twins and nine children were among the dead.

The 44-year-old bricklayer from Kilnasaggart Road, Jonesborough, Co Armagh, also faces counts of causing the August 1998 explosion in Omagh and possession of a bomb in the market town with intent to endanger life or property.

He is further charged with conspiring to cause an explosion and having explosives with intent in connection with a dissident republican bomb plot in Lisburn in April that year. Relatives of victims of the Omagh bomb, including Michael Gallagher, Stanley McComb and Godfrey Wilson, were in court to hear whether the case would proceed.

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A lawyer for Daly had claimed there was no case to answer.

Peter Corrigan said his client had been living openly in south Armagh at all times since 1999 and questioned why he could not be located to press charges in the "biggest murder trial in British criminal history".

Evidence is still being sought from gardai about the worst atrocity of the Troubles but most of it has already been received, the Public Prosecution Service previously told Omagh Magistrates Court.

Mr Chambers said: "A large part of the evidence that relates to Mr Daly involves mobile phones and a substantial amount of that evidence is from the Republic of Ireland."

He said a substantial proportion of the material will be available within four-to-six weeks but legal issues surrounding other more complex material will take three or four months to resolve.

He said he was confident that it will be possible to put together committal papers of evidence which would allow the matter to be taken to a higher court without the more complicated material.

Mr Corrigan said the evidence was "stale" and based on mobile phones.

"That evidence is in serious dispute and contention. The primary witness that the Crown have put forward is Denis O'Connor.

"That person has perjured themselves in court."

Daly was remanded in custody until March 10. Daly lived near the border before he was arrested at a retail centre car park in Newry, Co Down, last April.

He appeared before the court via video link from prison where he is being held pending trial.

Background

No one has ever been convicted in connection with the 1998 Real IRA bomb in Omagh which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins. Seamus Daly - a 44-year-old bricklayer from Kilnasaggart Road in Jonesborough, south Armagh - currently faces 29 counts of murder connected to the bomb which exploded in the Co Tyrone town on a busy Saturday afternoon. He also faces charges linked to a Lisburn bomb plot.


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