Court to investigate newspaper for contempt

A journalist and newspaper are to be investigated for contempt of court for reporting of the trial of alleged Real IRA leader Michael Mc Kevitt, the Special Criminal Court was told today.

A journalist and newspaper are to be investigated for contempt of court for reporting of the trial of alleged Real IRA leader Michael Mc Kevitt, the Special Criminal Court was told today.

Prosecuting counsel Mr George Birmingham SC told the court when the trial resumed that he wanted to refer to a series of articles "under the byline of one particular individual in one particular publication".

Mr Birmingham said that these articles seemed "designed to prevent a fair trial" and he added that "concerns have increased with the publication of two articles in the course of the trial by the same particular individual in the same publication".

Counsel said: "They seem to constitute clear criminal contempt and the matter will be investigated when the trial concludes."

Mc Kevitt's counsel Mr Hugh Hartnett SC said he "agreed entirely" with Mr Birmingham and he added that he had been very concerned with certain reporting of the case.

It was the ninth day of the trial of Michael Mc Kevitt (aged 53) , of Beech Park, Blackrock, Dundalk, Co Louth is charged with membership of an unlawful organisation styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann between August 29, 1999 and March 28, 2001. He is also charged directing the activities of the same organisation.

When the trial resumed the chief prosecution witness , FBI agent David Rupert, was cross examined in detail by Mr Hartnett about the circumstances of his bankruptcy in 1984.

Mr Rupert (aged 51), a former trucking company boss and bar owner , has told the court that he infiltrated dissident republican groups for the FBI and the British Security Service (MI5).

The court has heard that Mr Rupert was paid $1.25m €1.7m for his wiork.

Mr Rupert has claimed that Mc Kevitt told him he wanted to set up a new dissident republican terrorist group that would carry out attacks in Britain and that he was seeking outside help, including from Saddam Hussein's Iraq, for the group.

Today Mr Rupert told Mr Hartnett that he could not recall giving an interview about his bankruptcy to a local newspaper, the Massena Observer.

Mr Hartnett asked Mr Rupert if he was ever worried about "a bad press" and Mr Rupert replied: "I felt that bad press was somethintg you could never really control. If it was bad press you just roll with the punches."

Mr Rupert said he did not recall owing bills from 1982 and 1983 and said that if he did they would have been included in the 1984 bankruptcy.

When asked if he had told the newspaper "up until last week my bills were paid", Mr Rupert said: "I don't recall giving the interview so I don't recall saying that in particular. If I did say it I assume I would have been referring to my operating bills - liquor bills, insurance bills, payroll bills."

The court has heard that the Massena Savings and Loan bank secured a judgement against Mr Rupert for $30,000 after the sale of his house ended in a dispute with the bank.

As a result of the court judgement the bank seized Mr Rupert's two trucking companies and two bars - Charlie's Tavern and the Woodlawn Hotel.

The trial is continuing.

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