RIRA firearms trafficking suspect stays in custody

  • 2008-02-20
  • By TBT staff
VILNIUS - A Vilnius court has dismissed an appeal submitted by Irish citizen Michael Campbell, who is associated with the Real Irish Republican Army paramilitary organization, protesting the decision to keep him under arrest until late April. The court ruled on Feb. 15 that Campbell's request to have the detention relaxed was without basis.
Although Campbell is a citizen of an EU country, the court considered he can hide from prosecution and took account of the seriousness of the crime and possible punishment. On Jan. 31 the same court authorized the detention of two Irish citizens associated with RIRA for attempted firearms purchase.

Campbell, 35, and an unidentified Irish woman, 28, were taken into custody after an alleged attempt to buy firearms from an undercover police agent who had been posing as an international arms dealer.
It is thought that the firearms were intended for a splinter group of the Real IRA led by Campbell's brother Liam.
The operation was organized by international security agencies, the State Security Department and the Defense Ministry. Local police were reportedly not involved.
Campbell will be kept in custody for three months, or until April 23, at the earliest. He is being held in Lukiskes prison.

Although it is not known when the trial will begin, the investigation is expected to take at least another six months, the Baltic News Service reported.
Prosecutor Irmantas Mikelionis had said the suspects will face trial in Lithuania, noting however that the execution of the sentence is "a separate question."
The unidentified woman's arrest was initially authorized for two weeks. However, prosecutors' requests to extend the custody were fulfilled and further charges were leveled against her.
Campbell rejected services of a state-sponsored lawyer and hired two private advocates who, according to reports, maintain constant connections with his relatives.

The suspect said in court that his relatives in Ireland could finance his stay at a hotel or rented apartment pending the final decision, the Delfi news portal wrote.
The Lithuanian Criminal Code provides up to eight years imprisonment for illegal acquisition of firearms. Campbell was found guilty in a case related to large scale cigarette smuggling four years ago in the Netherlands.
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