21/05/2016 by socialistfight
By Michael Holden IRPSG
On June 22nd 2006 a sixty page document was published by a committee charged with exposing the framing of Michael McKevitt who was at that time serving a 20 year sentence in Portlaoise Prison. The foreword in this document was written by the renowned human rights activist and clergyman Desmond Wilson. Wilson made it clear he was convinced beyond doubt that the prisoner Michael McKevitt was not only innocent but the victim of a frame-up, and laid the blame fairly and squarely at the doorstep of the Garda Siochana (Irish police), the British Special Branch MI5 and the American FBI.
“Reasonable people,” Wilson wrote “will read this account of what is happening to Michael McKevitt with a mixture of sadness and anger.” He went on to say – “people who value good legal systems and appreciate the courage of those who struggled to create them will read it with deep disappointment.” We know now that has certainly been proven to be the case.
The injustice openly displayed during the McKevitt trial was clear-cut even to those with only a basic knowledge of the legal system in either Britain or Ireland. All through Ireland’s long and tragic history justice was never considered an important factor by those in authority, and this was never clearer than at this trial. Police informers are hated and detested everywhere and none more so than in Ireland – even by those who pay them. Yet at the McKevitt trial the Irish state had no qualms using and paying a notorious informer imported into Ireland from the USA to give perjured evidence at this trial which resulted ultimately in the wrongful conviction of Michael McKevitt.
The informer in this case was David Rupert – a well-known criminal and petty crook with a history of embezzlement. He was a career informant who had worked for the FBI for thirty years. Despite this knowledge the Irish state agreed to use this man and convince others to believe the testimony he would give at the trial.
During his paid soujourn in Ireland Rupert claimed he forwarded all what he considered to be relevant information to his paymasters in London. He told MI5 that a republican group planned to bomb the town of Omagh in County Tyrone and on August 15th 1998 an explosion did occur in Omagh resulting in the deaths of thirty one people and many injuries.
A subsequent inquiry established that the Irish, British and American intelligence services had information prior to the bombing which could have prevented it happening – despite telephone warnings being given forty minutes beforehand. But the RUC (deliberately or otherwise) moved people towards the bomb – instead of away from it – and claimed later the information known to the intelligence services had not been relayed to them – even though intelligence headquarters GCHQ had been monitoring the conversations of the alleged bombers as they drove the bomb into Omagh town. The Police Ombudsman Report later slammed the RUC’s own investigation.
What transpired afterwards became a farce. The RUC had (according to themselves) obtained ‘circumstantial and coincidental’ evidence against some suspects. Colm Murphy a local businessman was tried and convicted but quickly released when it was revealed the Guarda (Irish police) had actually forged the interview notes used in his case. Another ‘suspect’ Sean Hoey was also put on trial and found not guilty – and Seamus Daly had the case against him thrown out!
It was against this background of muddle and incompetence that the McKevitt case was eventually conducted. Michael McKevitt was never at any time questioned about events in Omagh. In fact the charge against him was of ‘directing terrorism’ – the usual catch-all charge when there is no evidence of anything else. His trial turned into a farce and he was forced eventually to dismiss his council and refused to appear in court for sentencing. He was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. It’s worth mentioning here that when the informer David Rupert was first approached by MI5 his response was – “tell me what to do, make it worth my while, and as long as the benefit overrides risk in my view it will be done to the best of my ability.” And so it was!
Michael McKevitt was released from Portlaoise prison on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016, but his campaign for justice is on-going and his case will eventually be heard at the European Court of Human Rights. So far he has waited sixteen years. Justice delayed is justice denied. We wish him well and every success.
“THERE MAY WELL BE TIMES WHEN WE FAIL TO PREVENT INJUSTICE, BUT THERE MUST NEVER BE A TIME WHEN WE FAIL TO PROTEST.”