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Real IRA boss found liable for Omagh bombing to be extradited to Lithuania on weapons smuggling charges


Liam Campbell.

Liam Campbell.

Liam Campbell.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has welcomed the extradition of Liam Campbell, who was found civilly liable for the Omagh bombing, to Lithuania, where he is suspected of international weapons smuggling on behalf of the Real IRA.

The Republic of Ireland’s Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal against surrender by Campbell, who has been battling extradition for more than 12 years.

He had hoped the decision by the High Court surrendering him to Lithuanian prosecutors would have been overturned.

The maximum sentence for terrorism offences in Lithuania is 20 years.

It is alleged that the 58-year-old was involved in smuggling weapons in support of the Real IRA between the end of 2006 and early 2007.

The Court of Appeal found that the Lithuanian authorities intend to put him on trial in the country.

Campbell was arrested in Upper Faughart, Dundalk, on December 2, 2016, following a second European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Lithuania to be endorsed by Ireland’s High Court.

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It was the third attempt by the country to seek Campbell’s surrender.

Campbell was found liable in a civil court for the Omagh bomb in August 1998, which claimed the lives of 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins, and injured 220 others.

It was the single deadliest incident during the Troubles.

The EAW sought Campbell in relation to three alleged offences - preparation of a crime, illegal possession of firearms, and terrorism.

It is alleged that he “made arrangements, while acting in an organised terrorist group, the Real Irish Republican Army (RIRA) to acquire a substantial number of firearms and explosives from Lithuania and smuggle them into Ireland”.

It further alleges that during the end of 2006 to 2007 Campbell “made arrangements with Seamus McGreevy, Michael Campbell (his brother), Brendan McGuigan and other unidentified persons to travel to Lithuania for the purposes of acquiring firearms and explosives, including, automatic rifles, sniper guns, projectors, detonators, timers and trotyl [TNT]”.

Campbell had previously spent four years in custody in Northern Ireland during a second attempt to extradite him but was released when he succeeded in his objection that to do so would be a breach of his rights.

Mr Justice John Edwards, presiding, with Mr Justice Donald Binchy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the Court of Appeal agreed with High Court Judge Aileen Donnelly that Campbell never presented evidence that no decision had been taken to charge or try him.

He quoted from her judgement delivered in the case last year, where she had noted that the criminal justice system in Lithuania was not similar to Ireland’s.

Welcoming Wednesday’s ruling, Sir Jeffrey said that “having clung to human rights law to avoid standing trial”, Campbell gave no thought to the rights of those killed and injured in the Omagh bomb.

“Neither it seems did those who supported his campaign against extradition,” he continued.

“The weapons and explosives which the Real IRA were attempting to secure would have been used in further human rights abuses.

“Anyone truly interested in human rights would want to see all those involved brought to justice.”

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