Omagh Bombing: ECHR Rejects 'Unfair Trial' Claims

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has declared that a trial of two Irish republicans found liable for the Omagh bomb was not unfair.

29 were killed in one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles in 1998.

Liam Campbell and Michael McKevitt were two of four men found liable. The civil case was brought by families of the victims.

The relatives were awarded £1.6million in damages.

However, Campbell and McKevitt both took their case to Europe and said that a civil trial in Belfast had been unfair.

They claimed that due to the severity of the charges the court should have applied criminal, rather than civil, standards of proof.

They also claimed claimed that the admission of the evidence of an FBI agent who had not been made available in court for questioning was unfair.

The EHRC rejected the claims.

It found that a criminal standard of proof was not necessary because the proceedings had been for a civil claim for damages and there was no criminal charge.

In relation to the evidence of the absent FBI agent, the Court found that the judge had fully considered the need for appropriate safeguards given the witness's absence; that the defendants had had an adequate opportunity to challenge the agent’s evidence with their own; and that the judge had had due regard to the appropriate considerations when deciding what weight he could attach to the evidence of an absent witness.

McKevitt is currently behind bards in Portlaoise and Campbell is in Maghaberry Prison.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said: "The Omagh bomb was an horrific and despicable atrocity. 18 years after the event we are still waiting for the terrorists who caused the devastating explosion in 1998 that killed 29 people and injured hundreds more, to be brought to justice.

"With regard to this case, the applicants had complained to the European Court of Human Rights that the civil claim brought against them and others, by many of the Omagh families, had been unfair. The Court has unanimously declared the applications inadmissible.

"We must never forget that it is the Omagh families and their loved ones who are the real victims. It is they who have had their human rights violated and who have been fighting for justice since that dreadful day in August 1998. If this decision by the European Court of Human Rights helps the Omagh families in their pursuit of truth and justice, then it is to be welcomed."

Pic: PA


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