A 41-YEAR-OLD Derry man will go on trial later this year charged with assisting in the murder of an Omagh policeman in 1993.
Constable Michael Ferguson (21), a Catholic RUC constable from Kevlin Gardens, was shot dead while on foot patrol in Derry city centre on January 23 1993.
The former Omagh CBS pupil was shot in the back of the head by a lone Provisional IRA gunman at 2.20pm on a Saturday afternoon while responding to a complaint of shoplifting at the busy Richmond Shopping Centre, on Shipquay Street.
In 2012, Christopher O’Kane of Woodland Avenue, Derry, was charged after reportedly offering detailed information about the killing to police.
In total, the 41-year-old was charged with 18 offences linked to terrorist activity over a six year period between January 1988 and August 1994 – including impeding the apprehension of Michael Ferguson’s killer, by wiping finger or palm prints from a car that O’Kane knew the shooter had used immediately after the killing.
The charges also include five counts of attempting to murder members of the security forces in bomb and mortar attacks at various locations around Derry over several years.
The attacks include a coffee jar bomb attack on Strand Road police station in December 31 1992; a mortar attack on an RUC patrol on October 5 1993; a bomb left on a railway line near Ebrington Barracks on December 14 1993; a mortar attack on a military vehicle on Culmore Road, Derry on March 10 1994; and a bomb placed at a boat jetty at Fort George on May 23 1994.
There are additional charges of placing a bomb on the windowsill of a house in the Prehen area of Derry in February 1994; two counts of possessing Mark 15 and 16 mortars and imprisoning at least two men on July 13 1994.
O’Kane is also charged with collecting details of vehicles entering and leaving Strand Road station as well as IRA membership.
A series of legal discussions had taken place in the lead up to Friday’s arraignment hearing at Belfast Crown Court, with one of the 18 charges being struck out.
O’Kane did not appear in court on Friday, however Judge David McFarland accepted 17 not guilty pleas on the defendant’s behalf.
He set a date for December 2 2014 at Belfast Crown Court.