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Irish Republican held without bail in 1998 bombing

DUBLIN — A dissident Irish Republican charged with 29 counts of murder in the 1998 car bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, was ordered held without bail Friday.

Seamus Daly appeared in Dungannon Magistrates’ Court in Northern Ireland. During his appearance, a detective told the court that the police case was based on telephone and forensic evidence and witness testimony.

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He said Daly, 43, who has previously been found responsible for the bombing in a landmark 2009 civil action by some of the bereaved families, had refused to answer questions while in custody but had given a prepared statement denying the charges.

Daly was arrested in the border town of Newry on Monday as he accompanied his pregnant wife to a maternity hospital, and he was formally charged Thursday.

A statement from the Police Service of Northern Ireland said he would also face two additional charges in relation to the Omagh bombing, and two charges in relation to an attempted bombing in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, in April 1998.

Daly’s lawyer, Dermot Fee, said Friday that the prosecution had failed to bring forward any new evidence, and called for his client’s release. “There is nothing new and nothing fresh that hasn’t been available for a long number of years,” Fee told the court.

But Deputy District Judge Paul Conway refused an application for bail, saying there was a risk that Daly, who is originally from Ireland but now resides in Northern Ireland, might flee. He is due to appear again in court May 6.

The car bomb exploded on Lower Market Street in Omagh on a busy shopping day in August 1998, killing 29 people.

After relatives of the victims won a civil case in 2009, Daly and three others were ordered to pay about $2.6 million in damages to the families. But there has never been a criminal conviction in the case.

In 2004, a court in Ireland imprisoned him for 3½ years after he acknowledged membership of the Real Irish Republican Army, the organization behind the Omagh bombing. Daly has denied involvement in the bombing.

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