Prosecutor Denies Bombing Cover-Up Allegations
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Allegations of a government cover-up in the federal building bombing are ``unfounded,″ prosecutors said.
``To suggest any of us would conceal or fail to investigate the identity of others involved in the killing of 169 innocent people is appalling,″ U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan wrote in a letter mailed to victims and survivors of the April 19 blast this week.
Grand juror Hoppy Heidelberg was thrown off the panel last week after going public with complaints that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence about a larger conspiracy and John Doe No. 2, the suspect depicted in FBI sketches released shortly after the bombing.
He ``was either a government agent or a government informant, either way they had ... prior knowledge to the bombing and that’s what they can’t afford to have come out,″ Heidelberg says in transcripts of an interview with Media Bypass, a magazine with ties to anti-government militias.
Federal authorities have said that an innocent Army private resembled the sketches, but they were never withdrawn.
``The question of involvement of others is the subject of intensive investigation by federal investigators and prosecutors who are totally devoted and committed to identifying and prosecution all persons involved in the planning or commission of these crimes,″ Ryan wrote.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols could face the death penalty if convicted on murder and conspiracy charges. Trial is set for May 17.
Also on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley ordered the federal Bureau of Prisons to give the prosecution records and tapes of personal phone calls McVeigh and Nichols have made while in custody. He also directed the prosecution to give copies to the defense.
And a lawyer representing about 250 victims and survivors claimed that a bomb ingredient was an ``explosive grade″ chemical illegally sold as fertilizer on the open market.
Johnnie Cochran, best known as O.J. Simpson’s lawyer, made the allegations in a revised $1 billion lawsuit against ICI Explosives USA, Inc., which contends that the company shouldn’t have allowed terrorists to get access to such a highly explosive form of ammonium nitrate.
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed with a 4,800-pound bomb made mostly of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil, authorities believe. The government says McVeigh and Nichols purchased ammonium nitrate at a Kansas cooperative supplied by ICI.
ICI spokesman Neal Mednick denied the allegations: ``Mr. Cochran is just grasping at straws.″