Witness talks at 'MI5 sting' case

6 May 2010
BBC News

An intelligence agent has started giving evidence in the trial of three NI men charged in connection with "an international arms smuggling plot". The witness was hidden from view from everyone in Belfast Crown Court, except the judge Mr Justice Hart and lawyers.

The witness, referred to as Amir, did not reveal which branch of the security services he was working for. An earlier hearing was told the operation was part of an MI5 sting against the Real IRA.

Between them the trio, Paul Anthony John McCaugherty, 43, from Beech Court, Desmond Paul Kearns, 44, from Tannaghmore Green, both Lurgan, and Dermot Declan Gregory, 41, also known as Michael Dermot from Concession Road, Crossmaglen, deny a total of seven charges.

Mr McCaughey (SIC) faces all seven charges, including conspiring to possess firearms and explosives and using almost 46,000 euros for terrorist purposes, membership of "The Irish Republican Army", and making the deeds of a Portuguese restaurant available for the purposes of terrorism.

Mr Kearns is accused of conspiring to possess firearms and explosives, while Mr Gregory is accused of making the deeds of the restaurant in Portugal available for the purposes of terrorism.

The witness told the court that he started work in August 2004 in an operation against Irish targets and his role was to glean information from a man regarding his activities and associates in Northern Ireland.

He was told the man travelled widely in Europe buying goods and he was asked to bump into him and befriend him.

The witness said he knew the man as John and was shown a photograph of him. It was claimed in court on Wednesday that he was the accused Mr Kearns.

The witness said he first met Mr Kearns outside a store in Luxembourg where he was buying cut-price cigarettes and he told him he could supply them at even cheaper rates.

After a series of meetings in bars in Brussels and Amsterdam, the witness said he sold Mr Kearns, and a woman he was told was his wife Alison, cigarettes, laptops, clothes and jewellery before mentioning that he could get guns from Pakistan.

The witness said at one meeting, Alison told him he "should go over to Ireland and supply them with weapons", but she subsequently denied that she had been serious.

However in July 2005, the security services told the witness that he should introduce a man to Mr Kearns as a weapons expert called Ejaz.

The witness said that when the subject of guns was raised, Mr Kearns said he would go back to his associates and see what they thought but he insisted he did not want to get involved in any meetings himself.

A tape recording of one meeting in an Amsterdam bar has been played in court.

The case continues.

0 Responses to "Witness talks at 'MI5 sting' case"
Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | Flash News Converted into Blogger Template by HackTutors