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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 18 April, 2014

Ireland, Britain not helping in Real IRA arms case: Lithuania

Both have refused to question other suspects whose testimony the court says is key to Michael Campbell’s appeal against his 12-year prison term.

Image: Mindaugas Kulbis/AP/Press Association Images

A LITHUANIAN COURT said Wednesday that Ireland and Britain have failed to cooperate in the appeal trial of an Irishman jailed by Vilnius for plotting to smuggle arms to the Real IRA.

The two countries have refused to quiz two suspects whose testimony the court says is key to 40-year-old Michael Campbell‘s appeal against his 12-year prison term.

A year-long correspondence “had not been fruitful”, Judge Viktoras Kazys told a court hearing, adding “We can’t force English and Irish institutions to act.”

Last year, the court said it would seek the testimony of Campbell’s elder brother Liam, and another Irishman, Brendan McGuigan.

Liam is one of the four leaders of the Real IRA found liable by a civil court for the 1998 bombing in Omagh, which killed 29 people.

Liam Campbell and McGuigan are wanted by Lithuania in the arms smuggling case and are currently fighting extradition to the Baltic state.

According to Kazys, UK officials said they doubted the elder Campbell would agree to testify, saying they could address the issue only after the extradition process.

He added that Ireland had sent a “strange” message this year saying it was not sure at this stage whether it could provide assistance.

The younger Campbell was arrested in a January 2008 sting in Vilnius as he met a Lithuanian agent posing as an arms dealer. He went on trial in August 2009.

In October 2011, he was convicted of attempted smuggling, aiding a terrorist organisation and illegal possession of arms.

“I would like the court to move on ’cause it seems to me that there is no info coming from establishment either in Ireland or in England,” Campbell told the court on Wednesday.

He has repeatedly insisted he was innocent and had been framed by British and Lithuanian intelligence.

The next hearing is scheduled for 27 June.

Irishman found guilty of attempted arms smuggling for Real IRA

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