29/01/2015 by socialistfight
The framing of Michael McKevitt – By Michael Holden, Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group
“Tell me what to do, make it worth my while, and as long as the benefit overrides the risk in my view, it will be done to the best of my ability.”
These were the words uttered by informer David Rupert in reply to a question put to him by his MI5 and FBI handlers.
Two years earlier in August 1998 a bomb exploded in the small market town of Omagh, County Tyrone, killing 29 people and injuring scores of shoppers. The bombing was claimed by the Real IRA – which subsequently declared a cease-fire. The Irish and British media immediately linked the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM) to the Real IRA. The 32CSM denied any such link, and issued a statement which said : “We are deeply saddened and devastated by the terrible tragedy in Omagh. We share the grief and sorrow of everyone on the island of Ireland and offer our sincere sympathy to the injured, the bereaved, their families and friends at this moment in time. The killing of innocent people can never be justified in any circumstances.” The statement went on to say the 32CSM was a political movement and not a military group, and rejected categorically any suggestion publicly made that the 32 County Sovereignty Movement was responsible in any way.
Founded in 1997 following a rift within Provisional Sinn Fein, the 32CSM had Bernadette Sands-McKevitt as one of it’s founding members. Bernadette was the sister of Bobby Sands, the poet and revolutionary, who died in 1981 following 66 days on hunger-strike – endeavouring to gain political status for he and his comrades in Long Kesh concentration camp. Bernadette Sands was also the wife of Michael McKevitt whom the media wrongly accused of being the “leader of the Real IRA.”
Arrested in May 2000 (long after the Omagh tragedy) he was questioned about membership of an ‘illegal organisation.’ He was released without charge. He was never questioned about the Omagh bombing, neither was he ever a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.
However the wheels were now well and truly set in motion to find a scapegoat – someone to find responsible, someone to blame for Omagh. What was lacking was evidence, hard evidence. This ‘difficulty’ was soon put right when in the summer of 2000, members of the British MI5 and the FBI met in Washington. The sole purpose of this meeting was to implicate and frame Michael Mckevitt.
Several years earlier the FBI had supplied MI5 with a paid tout by the name of David Rupert. Rupert was a career informant of 30 years. He was also a petty criminal involved in fraud of every description – and suspected of being implicated in white slavery.
But Rupert’s criminal background was no obstacle! As far as MI5, the FBI and the Irish Intelligence Agency was concerned, Rupert had an even more important role to play in the framing of Michael McKevitt.
Michael and Bernadette were arrested in a blaze of publicity. He was told his arrest was ‘a political decision’! When Bernadette was told her husband was charged, the Guarda (Irish police) mocked her, telling her she would no longer be able to continue with her political work. In March 2001 she was released without charge, but Michael McKevitt was taken before the no-jury Special Criminal Court (SCC) in Dublin and charged with “directing the activities” of an illegal organisation, and membership of the same organisation – namely the Irish Republican Army. He was refused bail and told that an MI5 and FBI informant by the name of Rupert would give evidence against him in any future trial.
However – and here is where the twist is in the tail – Michael McKevitt was made an offer by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The offer was – if he agreed to plead guilty to the ‘IRA membership’ charge, then the charge of ‘directing terrorism’ charge would be dropped! But despite the offer to drop the ‘directing terrorism’ charge (which would have resulted in a far less sentence) Michael refused on the basis it was an attempt by the prosecution to conceal the stitch-up and thereby bolster the civil case against him.
The stage was now set for the framing of Michael McKevitt!
Michael McKevitt is a political hostage framed by MI5 with the assistance of the FBI and senior members of the Irish Gardai. Michael was sentenced to 20 years and has been incarcerated in Portlaoise Prison for almost eight years now.
“Reasonable people will read this account of what is happening to Michael McKevitt with a mixture of sadness and anger. People who value good legal systems and appreciate the courage of those who struggled to create them will read it with deep disappointment as well.
The treatment and trial of Michael McKevitt will outrage all of them.
Some of us who attended the Green Street Court in Dublin any time during the hearing of his trial will always remember the grip of cold fear we felt at how similar this trial was to what we had read about years ago – the show trials of the dictatorships.”
So wrote Desmond Wilson, clergyman and human rights exponent in his foreword in the booklet The Framing Of Michael McKevitt. Wilson is not a republican, and what he wrote illustrates the anger and frustration felt by many honest ordinary people in Ireland at the time of the McKevitt trial.
There isn’t any doubt whatsoever that Michael McKevitt was framed and is today a political hostage in the real sense of the word.
Prior to the McKevitt trial there was a campaign of vilification, slander and intimidation. The Irish media sadly were only too happy to join in that vilification. There was a relentless barrage of accusations accusing the family of involvement in the Omagh bomb tragedy – thereby putting their lives at risk! All visitors to their home in Dundalk were harassed by the Gardai (Irish police) who had taken up permanent residence outside their home. Even the local window-cleaner was stopped, thrown across the bonnet of a Gardai car and searched. Neighbours who approached the McKevitt home were warned they might be arrested ‘as IRA sympathisers’ – and so it went on. Even on Christmas Day the ERU (Emergency Response Unit) sat in a van outside their house with a loud hailer shouting obscenities.
From the outset there was on an-going stream of leaks through the Irish media prior to the McKevitt court case. Several such reports claimed Michael was video recorded meeting informer David Rupert.
These reports were completely false but it turned out later in court that no Gardai officer or journalist was ever threatened or charged with sub-judice prejudicial reporting.
Throughout the trial the (non-jury) Special Criminal Court was packed with FBI agents and members of the INSU (Irish National Security Unit) – and in addition – a backroom in the court was given over to MI5 for their exclusive use! Earlier Bernadette Sands-McKevitt had challenged the then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern about the presence of MI5 and CIA officers operating in Ireland. Ahern denied all knowledge of their presence! Yet there they were in a Dublin High Court after being wined and dined by their Gardai colleagues!
David Rupert took the stand and was cross-examined by the McKevitt defence. His responses were vague and very limited. He did however admit he had been coached and trained by MI5 prior to his arrival in Ireland and it became abundantly clear during the trial that he was directed, influenced and financed by MI5 and the American FBI. He admitted openly in court he was a career informant since the 1970s and financially motivated. The media ignored this. One would have thought that the blatant abuse of the rule of law would leave a considerable sense of unease amongst those who profess to value the ‘independence’ of the rule of law in Ireland – but in Michael McKevitt’s case their silence was deafening – and still is!
No evidence was produced in court linking Michael McKevitt to Omagh – or to any other bomb. The ‘hard evidence’ espoused earlier by the media never materialised. It never existed. However a number of Gardai from the NSU (National Surveillance Unit) perjured themselves over and over again. They claimed for instance that they had observed Rupert, Michael McKevitt and others enter a house in a local authority housing estate in Oaklands Park. The purpose of their ‘evidence’ was to corroborate and give credence to Rupert’s lies
However, and this is on record, each of the Gardai continually contradicted Rupert (and their own) evidence! Under cross-examination it was confirmed they did not make their original statements – which as a matter of interest were identical(!) – until a year after the alleged meeting took place – and over a month since Michael McKevitt’s arrest! Another member of the NSU team stated had observed the “… comings and goings of Rupert and Michael McKevitt” – but it was shown his view was hidden by a wall and a tree – yet he claimed he could see clearly!
He also admitted under cross-examination he wore no watch that night, had no pen and paper to record accurately! This coming from the (elite?) National Surveillance Unit who – according to them – had ‘prior knowledge of the meeting taking place’ – yet came unprepared! Furthermore the senior member of the NSU confirmed there was no photographic evidence because they didn’t have a camera that could take photographs in the dark – another lie!
Michael Holden and Gerry Downing
This man became visibly embarrassed when the McKevitt defence team produced copies of the same street – taken at night by a photographer employed by the Gardai and the NSU! Furthermore – and this is particularly relevant – the court also learned that the ‘supposed’ Oaklands Park observations were short and did not correspond with the elaborate detail described in the Gardai log-book – which in fact placed Michael McKevitt in the front-room of his own house – at the same time that David Rupert, stated categorically, he was meeting with him at an ‘IRA Army Council’ meeting!
Rupert also claimed on oath he had been picked up at the McKevitt home that evening by Stephen McKevitt (Michael’s son) but the Gardai surveillance report did not record Rupert anywhere near the McKevitt home that evening! In fact it logged Stephen McKevitt driving alone in a southern part of the county – at the time Rupert claimed Stephen had taken him to a house north of Dundalk! More contradictions, more lies! It was obvious to the court that as far as David Rupert was concerned there had been one blatant lie after another, and in the words of Rupert’s handler Gardai Assistant Commissioner Dermot Jennings – ‘Rupert is a bullshitter and a liar.’ But was the court impressed? Of course not.
One major problem the McKevitt defence team faced was seeking disclosure. The court claimed it had no jurisdiction to compel agencies outside the state – MI5, FBI, CIA – to disclose any of their files! Yet the same court had no difficulty accepting evidence from a witness supplied by these very same agencies’!
Simultaneously, it was conceded both ‘foreign police agencies’ had conspired with the Irish Gardai in framing an Irish citizen. Michael also requested full disclosure from the Irish authorities. One disclosure document he sought was the document that detailed who exactly was responsible for authorising the external agencies to operate within the Irish jurisdiction? This request was refused on the grounds ‘of national security.’
But this was not on the grounds that no external agencies operated openly and clandestinely in Ireland in furtherance and defence of their own national interests! Non-disclosure of vital documents resulted in Michael’s defence team being greatly disadvantaged and handicapped. They were met with obstacle after obstacle – with only ONE result likely to emerge.
Stephen McKevitt, who had been helping his father with his case, was arrested and all vital documents pertaining to his defence were seized. Stephen was held for two days during which time he was offered inducements to give evidence against his own father! The trial had become a farce and a travesty of justice.
Michael dismissed his legal team. They had done their best but were not meant to win. He addressed the court detailing his reasons citing the proceedings as nothing other than a ‘show trial.’ He stated he was told by a senior Gardai officer at the time of his arrest, that the decision to frame him “… was a political one”.
Dublin’s (non-jury) Special Criminal Court, under the direction of Mr Justice Richard Johnston found Michael McKevitt guilty and sentenced him to twenty years imprisonment – principally on the evidence of David Rupert.
As for David Rupert. He was paid handsomely by the CIA and FBI. It is estimated his total take at around $5 million – this consists of $1.5 million from the FBI, plus a similar payment from MI5 – with a pension-plus of a reported $50,000 per month for life! All of those payments were dependent on the conviction of Michael McKevitt.
The case of Michael McKevitt will eventually go to the European Courts and when it does our European friends may well be shocked. We who are already shocked need not feel helpless. Michael McKevitt and his family need – and deserve – our help – and that help should be given for the sake of justice for all of us.
Further information can be had from the McKevitt website – http://www.michaelmckevitt.com
Foreward to ‘The Framing of Michael McKevitt’
Marcella Sands’ booklet, The Framing of Michael McKevitt, is launched in Dublin today.
Fr. Des Wilson • 22 June 2006
Reasonable people will read this account of what is happening to Michael Mc Kevitt with a mixture of sadness and anger. People who value good legal systems and appreciate the courage of those who struggled to create them will read it with deep disappointment as well.
The treatment and trial of Michael Mc Kevitt will outrage all of them. Some of us who attended the Green St. court any time during the hearing of his trial will always remember the grip of cold fear we felt at how similar this trial was to what we had read about years ago, the show trials of the dictatorships.
Bringing in a witness who admitted he was motivated by money, opening the court to free passage of police and government agents, the complacence of judges and state lawyers faced the clear presumption that the safety of the state is more important than justice for the individual. We had heard it all before. In the past however, news media and church and universities and all kinds of people had condemned what was happening in those countries which they described as under dictatorship or communist rule. Now we were witnessing in our own people’s courts the misuse of a system which we believed was so superior, so basically just, so presided over by people of such integrity that it would always be found better to set the guilty free than to convict even one innocent. This trial has been one of the most frightening and revealing of the past forty years in Ireland’s courts north and south.
The case of Michael Mc Kevitt must go to the European courts and when it does our fellow Europeans may well be shocked. We who are already shocked need not feel helpless. Michael Mc Kevitt and his family need our help and that help should be given for the sake of justice for all of us. In no circumstances must we allow political needs to dictate how our courts will work. And if there is one prisoner unfairly treated then every one of us should feel honoured to make justice rather than political opinion prevail. If any prisoner needs help we are bound and privileged to give it.
Please read this document. Please do what you can to make clear that the safety of the state can never be served by the suffering of even one of its citizens.
The Blanket is serialising the booklet, starting this week.
Foreward to ‘The Framing of Michael McKevitt’