THURSDAY 17/07/2003 14:40:31
Spy denies inventing RIRA story
The FBI agent testifying against alleged Real IRA mastermind Michael McKevitt today denied that his evidence in the trial had been a serial deceit.
US businessman David Rupert dismissed as `purely fantasy` allegations that he had invented and concocted a story during his time in the witness box.
It was claimed that the 51-year-old had never met Mr McKevitt, despite outlining several meetings he had attended with the alleged Real IRA leader.
As cross-examination of Mr Rupert drew to an end, defence barrister Hugh Hartnett said: ``I`m putting it to you that what you have said here in court about Mr McKevitt is an entire invention and concoction.``
Mr Rupert replied: ``That`s totally ludicrous and purely fantasy.``
The spy, who infiltrated dissident republican groups, is the key witness in the trial of Mr McKevitt, 53, of Blackrock, Dundalk, Co Louth, who denies directing the Real IRA and being a member of the group.
He told Dublin`s Special Criminal Court how Mr McKevitt had taken him on several trips around Co Louth.
He said that on one of these visits Mr McKevitt pointed out a place where he, his wife and a third person had nearly got caught `building a bomb or something like that`.
Mr Rupert also spoke of attending several IRA meetings at secret locations.
He rejected Mr Hartnett`s accusation that his evidence at the trial had been a `tissue of lies`.
He also rejected that his evidence had been a serial deceit.
``I put it to you that you never met Mr McKevitt,`` the defence barrister added.
Mr Rupert replied: ``That`s foolishness.``
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow
Judge Richard Johnson thanked Mr Rupert as he finished giving evidence.
Prosecution barrister George Birmingham assured the court that the agent would be available if he was required at a later date in the trial.
During his 15 days in the witness box it emerged Mr Rupert received 1.25 million US dollars (£783,000) from the FBI and MI5 to infiltrate dissident republican groups during the 1990s.
The striking 6ft 5in 20-stone informer said he was first introduced to Irish republicans by his ex-girlfriend who was a lobbyist for Irish republican fundraising organisation Noraid.
It was through her that he met pub owners Vincent Murray and Joe O`Neill.
When the FBI became aware of his republican contacts they approached him with an offer to spy for them.
The former trucking company boss initially turned down the request but accepted it after watching a television programme on the 1998 Real IRA bombing of Omagh.
During a lengthy cross examination it emerged that the agent owed the US Government 750,000 US dollars (£470,000) in unpaid taxes
after his business collapsed.
The court also heard that Mr Rupert tried to become a professional wrestler in a bid to earn money.
BACK to McKevitt Trial News