Prosecutors have dropped charges against a bricklayer accused of murdering 29 people in the 1998 Omagh bomb.
Seamus Daly, 45, had been on remand in prison since being charged in April 2014 with the Real IRA atrocity and a range of other terror offenses.
A pre-trial hearing commenced in Omagh Magistrates’ Court last week to establish whether the evidence in the case was of sufficient strength to warrant a trial.
On Tuesday, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) withdrew the charges before the preliminary hearing had reached conclusion.
As well as the 29 murder counts, Daly, from Jonesborough, Co. Armagh, had faced charges of causing the August 1998 explosion and possession of a bomb with intent to endanger life or property.
He was further charged with conspiring to cause an explosion and having explosives with intent in connection with a separate dissident republican bomb plot in Lisburn in April of the same year. All charges were dropped.
In 2009, Daly and three others were ordered in a civil action to pay £1.6 million in damages to the bereaved relatives, money the relatives are still pursuing.
No one has ever been convicted of the murders in a criminal court.
Daly has always denied involvement in the bombing, which inflicted the greatest loss of life of any terror atrocity in the history of The Troubles.
The dead came from both sides of the Irish border, England and Spain. One of the victims was pregnant with twins.
A spokeswoman for the PPS said, “The decision not to seek the return of Seamus Daly for trial to the Crown Court has been taken following a careful review of the current state of the evidence. This has focused in particular on the testimony provided by a key witness during committal proceedings last week.”
The spokeswoman added, “On behalf of the PPS, I extend our sympathy to the families affected by the Omagh bomb. We understand how difficult this decision will be for them.”
A victims’ campaigner whose son was killed in the blast said he agreed with the decision to drop the trial.
“This was a difficult case and hinged on the testimony of one individual and that one individual did not seem to be up to meeting the test needed to put someone behind bars,” Michael Gallagher said.