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Dublin - An Irish Republican Army convict was refused bail Friday at his arraignment on 29 charges of murder for the 1998 car-bombing of Omagh, the deadliest attack of Northern Ireland's four-decade conflict.
Seamus Daly, 43, did not speak during the court hearing in Dungannon, west of Belfast, amid high police security. Relatives of the dead watched in silence from the gallery.
Detective Inspector John Caldwell testified that the case against Daly includes witness, telephone and forensic evidence. Daly's defense attorney, Dermot Fee, dismissed the evidence as “nothing new and nothing fresh.”
Caldwell said Daly was charged with mass murder while in police custody Thursday, when Daly read a prepared statement denying involvement in the attack by the Real IRA.
The Real IRA, a faction formed in 1997 when most IRA members ceased fire to enable peace talks, car-bombed several Northern Ireland towns in 1998, the year of the Good Friday peace accord. British security forces avoided deaths in the other explosions through swift evacuations but in Omagh, they accidentally directed crowds toward the bomb because of misleading phone warnings.
Fee argued that Daly would not jump bail to the Republic of Ireland, where IRA suspects often flee. Caldwell countered that Daly would run if given the chance, and was likely to threaten witnesses.
Judge Paul Conway ordered Daly jailed pending his next court appearance May 6.
Daly pleaded guilty in 2004 to IRA membership and served three years in prison. In 2009, a Belfast civil jury ruled that Daly and three other alleged Real IRA commanders committed the Omagh attack and ordered them to pay more than 1.5 million pounds ($2.5 million) to victims. The four refused.
Omagh victims have campaigned for 16 years for someone to be held criminally liable. Prosecutions of two other Real IRA suspects ended in acquittals.