Belfast Telegraph

Real IRA chief’s brother in court over weapons

By Elaine Loughlin

The brother of a Real IRA commander has appeared in court in Lithuania charged with involvement in an international arms smuggling racket.

Michael Campbell (37) was arrested in January 2008 in an undercover operation after allegedly trying to buy weapons for the Real IRA from an intelligence officer posing as an international arms dealer.

Prosecutors allege the Dundalk man handed over €10,000 (£8,600), for the haul of weapons including a sniper rifle, detonators, timers and 22lb of high explosive in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.

But the bogus deal had been set up as part of an elaborate sting operation involving the Garda Síochána, Interpol and British security services. Campbell has been charged with possession and attempted smuggling of illegal weapons and supporting a terrorist organisation.

His wife, Fiona Duffy, was also detained at the time of the undercover operation but was released four months later and all charges were dropped.

If found guilty, Campbell could face 20 years behind bars in Lithuania.

The hearing yesterday in the capital Vilnius was adjourned and a new court appearance has been scheduled for September 24.

Campbell’s older brother Liam was one of four Real IRA leaders who were sued by families of the victims of the Omagh bombing which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, in August 1998.

Michael McKevitt, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly were found liable along with Campbell in the historic legal case at Belfast High Court.

The civil case resulted in an award of combined damages of over £1.5m.

In May 2004 Liam Campbell was convicted by a court in the Republic for membership of the Real IRA and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

He is currently wanted by Lithuania on terrorism and arms charges and is the subject of a European arrest warrant.

He was arrested in Northern Ireland in May 2009 and is fighting extradition to Lithuania.

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