Real ira charges, Kevin Barry Murphy, Patrick Carty, Brian Sheridan, Brian Cavlan, Dominic Dynes
A MAN who walked free from court yesterday after bomb-making charges against him were dropped has denied ever being a leading member of the Real IRA.
Kevin Barry Murphy (41) was released after spending a year in custody.
He had been facing charges of preparing acts of terrorism and possessing explosives with intent to endanger life.
The charges were withdrawn at Armagh Magistrates Court.
Co-accused Patrick Carty (31), of Springdale in Dungannon, was also released after a Public Prosecution Service lawyer said a charge of preparing acts of terrorism against him was also being dropped.
Mr Carty was arrested in February after police claimed his fingerprints had been found on plastic used to cover a horizontal mortar device discovered in a field at Killybracken Road in Dungannon in April last year.
Charges against three other men linked to the alleged discovery of a bomb factory near Keady in Co Armagh in April last year were also dropped.
The three facing those charges were Brian Sheridan (35), of Avonmore in Blackwatertown; Brian Cavlan (36), of Circular Road in Dungannon; and Dominic Dynes (40), of Castleblayney in Co Monaghan.
The three were returned to jail to face additional charges linked to the discovery of firearms in a car in which they were travelling in April last year.
Before the hearing a police officer filmed people entering and leaving the court complex.
There was a heavy police presence inside as many of the men's relatives and friends packed into the public gallery.
During a bail hearing in September last year Mr Murphy, of Altmore Park in Coalisland, was described by police as a member of the Real IRA's army council and the group's leader in east Tyrone.
He was arrested earlier after police said his fingerprints had been found on a coffee grinder they claimed was linked to the bomb factory.
After walking free from court he denied ever being a member of the Real IRA, an organisation that no longer exists.
He said he had been "interned by remand".
"In the past I have been acquitted of being a member of that organisation," he said.
"I am not a member of any organisation and have never been a member of any organisation.
"That should be taken with a pinch of salt.
"The important point is that for the last 14 months we have asked for the fingerprint evidence and they have failed to produce it.
"It is tantamount to internment by remand.
"Someone said we were guilty of something without producing the evidence.
"That is the strategy being used against republicans.
"In the eighties we had the super-grass trials, in the nineties we had shoot-to-kill and today they are using internment by remand."
He also called for the role of the PSNI and the forensics used in his arrest and detention to be examined.
"An independent body needs to look at how those who step outside the box, those who are not pro-Good Friday Agreement republicans, end up in Maghaberry," he said.
"What happened to us is also an indictment of constitutional nationalism which has remained silent on the issue.
"It's an indictment of the new political dispensation on policing and justice."
A spokesman for the Public Prosecution Service said it "can confirm that the PPS has decided not to prosecute the accused as it was considered that the available evidence was insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of a conviction”.
“The charges were therefore withdrawn,” the spokesman said.