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Real IRA suspect acquitted of 1998 Omagh bombing

[JURIST] A judge in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Thursday found alleged Real IRA [BBC backgrounder] member Sean Gerard Hoey not guilty [judgment text, PDF] of murder in relation to the 1998 Omagh bombing [BBC backgrounder], the worst terrorist attack in Northern Ireland history. Judge Reginald Weir ruled that there was insufficient DNA evidence linking Hoey to the bomb to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he made the device. Hoey was formally charged [JURIST report] in 2005; he had been being held for earlier charges of possessing explosives and his alleged membership with the Real IRA.

The only other conviction made in connection with the Omagh bombing was in 2002 against Colm Murphy, but it was later quashed for mishandling of evidence [JURIST report]. Murphy faces a retrial. In 2005, the Irish Public Prosecution Service dropped charges [JURIST report] against another suspect, Anthony Joseph Donegan. Twenty-nine people were killed and 220 were injured when a car bomb [BBC backgrounder] set by the Real IRA, a splinter group of the former provisional Irish Republican Army opposed to the peace process, exploded in the Northern Ireland town of Omagh in 1998. AP has more.

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