Lithuania’s appeals reviewing Real IRA member’s case

Michael Campbell
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

The review was ordered by the Supreme Court of Lithuania last summer when it upheld the prosecutor’s arguments that the Court of Appeals of Lithuania failed to take into consideration all relevant circumstances in the case when it acquitted Michael Campbell, 41.

The Irishman was initially sentenced to 12 years in prison by Vilnius Regional Court for assistance to a terrorist group, illegal arms possession and attempts to smuggle them, but the Court of Appeals of Lithuania acquitted him last October.

The Court of Appeals found that British and Lithuanian institutions failed to provide evidence to refute the defence arguments that the Irishman was provoked by intelligence agents.

Soon after his acquittal, Campbell went back to Ireland where he now resides. His lawyer Ingrida Botyrienė told BNS he has no plans to return to Lithuania, which is not required by the law. She told the court on Wednesday morning that her defendant had not come “due to financial difficulties.”

Prosecutor Gedgaudas Norkūnas asked the court to once again turn to Ireland for the defendant’s brother Liam Campbell and another defendant Brendan McGuigan to be questioned. According to the prosecutor, they now reside in Ireland.

“We believe Irish law enforcement institutions should be asked once again to question these persons,” the prosecutor told the court, adding that Ireland could be also asked to do so by Lithuania’s Ministry of Justice.

The Irish and British had refused to hand Liam Campbell and McGuigan over to Lithuania, citing poor detention condition in the Baltic country. Lithuania’s requests for the two to be questioned were long ignored by Irish and British institutions, and the Court of Appeals of Lithuania ruled “there was no hope” the legal assistance requests would be answered.

Botyrienė agreed on Wednesday that new questioning was needed. She asked the court to also turn to the British secret service MI5 for information about secret agent Robert Michael Jardine’s activities in the case.

Liam Campbell is considered to be one of the leaders of the Real IRA. He was previously found responsible in a civil case for the Omagh bombing in 1998 when 29 people were killed and over 200 were injured.

The panel of three judges will rule on these requests on 21 November.

The prosecutor is asking a prison sentence of 16 years for Michael Campbell. Meanwhile, his defence wants a full acquittal.

Campbell was arrested in Vilnius in January 2008 after purchasing arms from an undercover secret agent.

Lithuanian prosecutors cited classified witnesses as saying that he inquired about the amount of explosives needed to blow up a governmental vehicle and said he would use the arms against people.

The Real IRA is a paramilitary group that opposes British rule of Northern Ireland. The group is considered a terrorist organization by the Council of Europe.

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