We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Michael McKevitt leaving Dublin's Supreme Court in 2008. PA Archive/Press Association Images
burden of proof

Two alleged Omagh bombers have lost a European challenge to a landmark ruling against them

Michael McKevitt and Liam Campbell argued that a civil trial against them was unfair.

TWO MEN WHO were found to be responsible for the Omagh bombing have had an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected.

In a landmark civil case taken by the families of some of the 29 people who died in the 1998 atrocity, Michael McKevitt and Liam Campbell were among the defendants who were ordered to pay substantial damages.

Nobody has ever been found to be criminally responsible for the Real IRA bombing.

In their case against the United Kingdom following the result of the families’ civil case, McKevitt and Campbell claimed that their trial was unfair.

They argued that the severity of the allegations meant that the judge should have applied a criminal rather than civil standard of proof in the case.

They also argued that it was unfair that evidence from an FBI agent was heard in the case without the agent’s presence as it meant they did not have an opportunity to challenge him in court.

The FBI had refused to make the agent available to appear as a witness, allegedly due to a threat to his security and a medical condition

On both points the ECHR rejected their arguments and dismissed their contention that the trial was unfair.

In a ruling delivered today the court found that, as the case in question was a civil case for damages, a criminal standard of proof was not required.

On the question of the FBI agent, the court found that the men had adequate opportunity to challenge the agent’s evidence with their own evidence.

The ECHR also said that the judge in the case was free to attach whatever weight they saw fit to the absent witness.

At the first instance hearing, McKevitt chose not to give any evidence, and Campbell did not attend at all.

Both men are currently incarcerated. McKevitt is being held in Midlands Prison in Portlaoise after being found guilty by the Special Criminal Court of being a member of the Real IRA.

Campbell is currently jailed in Maghaberry Prison in Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland.

Read: Two found liable in Omagh bomb civil retrial >

Read: Dissident republican McKevitt loses appeal over conviction on Real IRA membership >

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.