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The Irishman accused of Real IRA gun-running in Lithuania is to face a retrial

Michael Campbell was originally sentenced to 12 years in prison but his conviction was overturned.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

AN IRISHMAN WHOSE conviction for trying to smuggle arms from Lithuania to the Real IRA was overturned is to face a retrial.

Michael Campbell was originally sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2011 but the conviction was overturned last October when an appeals court cited a lack of evidence.

But an expanded seven judge panel of the Lithuanian Supreme Court have now ordered a retrial, saying that it is “necessary to assess all the peculiarities of the case”.

Campbell has long insisted he was framed by British intelligence and the appeals court last October had said that there was no evidence linking him with the Real IRA.

In the latest twist in the case, the Supreme Court panel said that the appeals court gave a “contradictory” assessment of intelligence witnesses.

“The panel decided to annul the verdict of 2 October, 2013, and refer the case to an appeals court,” judge Gintaras Goda said, reading the verdict.

The 41-year-old Campbell, who currently lives in Ireland, did not come to Vilnius for verdict.

His lawyers and prosecutor did not appear either, and they could not be immediately reached for a comment.

“The court of appeals groundlessly downgraded part of evidence and by giving priority to testimony of the acquitted person,” prosecutor Gedgaudas Norkunas told the court in a hearing last month.

Campbell’s lawyer Ingrida Botyriene rejected the prosecutor’s arguments, telling the court that “provoked activity cannot be recognised as criminal”.

Campbell went on trial in August 2009 after having been arrested in a January 2008 sting in Vilnius, where he met a Lithuanian agent posing as an arms dealer. He denied being a member of the Real IRA.

Campbell’s brother Liam was one of four Real IRA leaders found liable by a civil court for a 1998 Omagh bombing that killed 29 people.

- Additional reporting by © – AFP 2014

Read: Irishman Michael Campbell released after Real IRA arms conviction overturned >

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

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Rónán Duffy

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