16 Mar 2012

A Lithuanian court has said it wants to question Real IRA member Liam Campbell over his younger brother Michael, who was jailed for 12 years by Vilnius for a plot to smuggle arms from the Baltic state.

Justice Viktoras Kazys ruled that the testimony of Liam Campbell and another Irishman was key to an appeal launched by Michael Campbell against his prison term.

“The court will take the necessary measures for them to be questioned. The court believes questioning is necessary,” Judge Kazys said.

Liam Campbell is one of the four leaders of the Real IRA found liable by a civil court for the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people.

In October 2011, a Lithuanian court convicted his younger brother Michael Campbell, 39, of attempted smuggling, aiding a terrorist organisation and illegal possession of arms.

However Michael Campbell appealed, insisting on his innocence and claiming he was framed in a money-making scheme run by prosecution witness Robert Jardine – identified in court as a British MI5 agent posing as a smuggler.

Michael Campbell was arrested in a January 2008 sting in Vilnius as he met a Lithuanian agent who posed as an arms dealer. He went on trial in August 2009.

Liam Campbell and another Irishman, Brendan McGuigan, are suspects in a separate pre-trial investigation in the arms smuggling case by the Lithuanian authorities.

Michael Campbell’s defence hailed today’s move, but said it was belated.

“The court’s decision is logical. Today we have the testimony of only one person but don’t know the position of the others,” lawyer Ingrida Botyriene told AFP.

Michael Campbell has vowed he was not acting for the Real IRA.