Real IRA leader's appeal dismissed

The Court of Criminal Appeal today dismissed the appeal of convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt against his conviction for directing terrorism.

The Court of Criminal Appeal today dismissed the appeal of convicted Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt against his conviction for directing terrorism.

The three judges of the appeal court said that the Special Criminal Court was entitled to conclude that the main prosecution witness in the case - FBI agent David Rupert - was a credible witness and was correct to convict him for directing terrorism.

McKevitt was in court for the decision and smiled at his wife Bernadette Sands McKevitt and Marcella Sands , sisters of dead IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, who were also in court.

McKevitt, aged 54, of Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth was jailed for twenty years by the Special Criminal Court in August 2003 after he was convicted of directing the activities of a terrorist organisation between August 29th, 1999 and October 23rd, 2000.

He was the first person to be convicted in the State for the offence which was introduced after the Real IRA bomb attack in Omagh in 1998 in which 29 people died.

McKevitt also received a six years concurrent prison sentence for membership of an illegal organisation which the court said was the Real IRA.

The four day appeal last month centred on the issues concerning the reliability of the chief prosecution witness in the trial - FBI agent and ``supergrass'' David Rupert - who infiltrated the Real IRA and attended Real IRA Army Council meetings where McKevitt was present.

The court heard during the appeal that Rupert had been paid $1.4m (€1.2m) dollars by the FBI and £400,000 (€594,000) by the British Security Service.

McKevitt's lawyers appealed against conviction on the grounds that there was not full and proper disclosure of all material relating to David Rupert and that the Special Criminal Court erred in law by not adequately assessing Rupert's credibility as a prosecution witness despite his history of involvement in criminality.

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