McKevitt cleared for Supreme Court bid

Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt was today given leave to go to the Supreme Court in a fresh bid to challenge his conviction for directing terrorism.

Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt was today given leave to go to the Supreme Court in a fresh bid to challenge his conviction for directing terrorism.

McKevitt's counsel Mr Hugh Hartnett SC was allowed to bring a Section 29 application - a matter of law of public importance - to the Supreme Court. Mr Hartnett claimed that the authorities had failed to provide information to the defence about the tax affairs of the chief witness in McKevitt's trial, FBI agent David Rupert.

Today the Court of Criminal Appeal allowed the legal point to go forward to the Supreme Court for hearing.

Last December the Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed McKevitt's appeal against his conviction for directing terrorism. The 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 to accept his evidence and was correct to convict him for directing terrorism. The court also ruled that all matters relating to disclosure in the trial were properly dealt with by the court.

McKevitt (aged 54), of Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth was jailed for 20 years by the Special Criminal Court in August 2003 after he was convicted of directing the activities of a terrorist organisation between August 29, 1999 and October 23, 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, including a woman pregnant with twins, died.

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

The four-day appeal last year centred on the issues concerning the reliability of the chief prosecution witness in the trial - FBI agent 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 (€1.1m) by the FBI and

400,000 pounds sterling by the British Security Service.

The court rejected all criticisms made of the Special Criminal Court's judgement in relation to the credibility of David Rupert.

More in this section