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Terror chief Michael McKevitt tries to have conviction declared miscarriage of justice

MICHAEL McKevitt is seeking to have his conviction for organising terrorist activities for the Real IRA declared a miscarriage of justice.

McKevitt (58), Beech Park, Blackrock, Co Louth, was convicted by the Special Criminal Court (SCC) in August 2003 following a lengthy trial and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

He was the first person in the state to be jailed for directing terrorist activities. The Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) dismissed McKevitt's appeal against his conviction in 2005, which was appealed to the Supreme Court on a point of law of public importance.

In 2008 the Supreme Court found that McKevitt's conviction was safe and dismissed his appeal.

However, lawyers acting on his behalf now claim that his conviction should be set aside on the basis it amounts to a miscarriage of justice.

Today when the matter was briefly mentioned before the CCA, comprised of Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice Michael Hanna, and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, the court granted Mr McKevitt legal aid to bring his miscarriage of justice application.

Michael O'Higgins SC, for McKevitt said it was their submission that a newly discovered fact showed that this was a case where there was miscarriage of justice. Counsel said their application relates to evidence which used against his client that was taken while Mr McKevitt was not legally represented.

Counsel said he believed the application would take the court a day to hear. Lawyers for the State said it was not objecting to the Louth man being granted legal aid.

Brendan Grehan SC, for the DPP, said anyone who appeals against their conviction under Section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1993, as part of a bid to have his conviction declared a miscarriage of justice, is entitled to legal aid.

Counsel added that the DPP was of the opinion that Mr McKevitt's application was flawed and it would be bringing a motion to have the Louth man's application dismissed.

The CCA adjourned the matter to December when the CCA is expected to fix a date for the hearing of the application.