Lithuania court orders retrial for arms accused

LITHUANIA'S most senior court has ordered the retrial of Co Louth man Michael Campbell on charges of smuggling arms for the Real IRA.

The 42-year-old brother of RIRA boss Liam Campbell was arrested in Lithuania in 2008 after a police operation targeted alleged efforts by Irish dissident republicans to purchase guns and explosives.

The Dundalk man was sentenced to 12 years behind bars at a court in Vilnius in 2011 after being found guilty of aiding a terrorist group, attempted smuggling and illegal possession of firearms. Prosecutors accused Campbell of paying more than £5,000 to Lithuanian agents posing as arms dealers for explosives, grenade launchers, detonators, AK-47s and a high-powered rifle. Campbell had denied the charges, claiming he had been set up by MI5 British intelligence.

He was freed last October after his conviction was overturned by the Vilnius appeal court, which found there was not enough evidence to link him to a paramilitary organisation. However, the Lithuanian Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the Irishman should face a retrial because it was "necessary to assess all the peculiarities of the case".

Authorities in the Baltic state last year failed in long-running efforts to have Liam Campbell extradited to face weapons smuggling charges.

The 51-year-old was among four men found liable in 2009 for the 1998 Omagh bombing which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins.


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