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Michael Campbell is escorted by police officers in Vilnius at a previous court sitting. Mindaugas Kulbis/AP/Press Association Images
Trial

Irishman alleged to have smuggled arms for Real IRA 'was framed'

Michael Campbell is on trial in Lithuania for his alleged involvement in smuggling weapons for the Real IRA.

THE LITHUANIAN DEFENCE team for an Irishman accused of trying to purchase and smuggle weaponry for the Real IRA has told a court that the defendant was a victim of entrapment orchestrated by Britain’s intelligence service.

Michael Campbell, 39, was arrested in January 2008 after allegedly handing €10,000 to an undercover Lithuanian agent posing as a weapons supplier.

The arrest was part of an international sting operation aimed at incapacitating the Real IRA, which has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in Northern Ireland, including the murder of two British soldiers in March.

In a closing argument before the Vilnius Regional Court, Campbell’s lawyer, Inga Botyriene, said that Campbell was provoked into buying the weapons and explosives by undercover agents of Britain’s top intelligence service.

“He was never involved in arms deals and would never go to Lithuania for such an affair if he had not been provoked by secret agents. The entire affair was created and orchestrated by Britain’s MI5, which worked together with Lithuania’s intelligence service,” Botyriene said.

Never a member

Botyriene also said Campbell has never been a member of the Real IRA.

Prosecutors have asked for a 16-year prison sentence for Campbell, who has spent the last three-and-a-half years in a cell with three other inmates in the Lukiskes prison in Vilnius.

Campbell, who turned 39 on Thursday, did not speak in court Friday.

“Conditions (in jail) are really bad, but I got used to this. You see, I am kept here for almost four years,” Campbell told reporters as he sat handcuffed and flanked by armed policemen.

Campbell allegedly first came to Lithuania in August 2007 to inspect some of the weaponry for which he later allegedly paid €6,000.

Prosecutor Gedgaudas Norkunas told a previous court session that, according to witness testimony, Campbell had asked how much explosive material was needed to blast a bullet-proof government car and said he intended to use explosive devices against people.

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Author
Associated Foreign Press
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