Last week prosecutors presented intelligence material to a Lithuanian court trying an Irishman charged with plotting to smuggle arms to Irish paramilitary group the Real IRA. “Prosecutors presented audio recordings of conversations between my client Michael Campbell and secret agents,” defense attorney Ingrida Botyriene told AFP. Campbell, 38, was arrested in a January 2008 sting in Vilnius and has been on trial since August 2009. He rejects charges of attempted weapons smuggling, illegal firearms possession and seeking to aid a terrorist organization, saying he was set up. He faces a 20-year sentence if convicted. Campbell is the brother of Liam Campbell, 47, one of four leaders of the Real Irish Republican Army found liable by a civil court for the August 1998 bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, which killed 29 people. The Real IRA broke with the Provisional IRA - once the main armed group opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland - in 1997 over the latter’s support for a peace deal with London.
In 2010, about every fifth Lithuanian, 20.6 percent of the population lived on the poverty line. An increase of 0.6 percent from 2009, Statistics Lithuania reports. 2008 saw a fall in the number of poor families due to an increase in maternity (paternity) benefits, the extended duration of payments and a growth in social benefits for children. In 2009, about 690,000 residents lived below the poverty line. The at-risk-of-poverty threshold stood at 831 litas (240.57 euros) per month for a person living alone and 1,746 litas (505.47 euros) for a family consisting of two adults and two children under 14 years of age.
At a special sitting last week, the Lithuanian Government approved next year’s budget, reported LETA. The planned revenues of the next year’s budget together with the European Union funds equal 27 billion litas (7.81 million euros), out of which the EU funds make up 7 billion litas. Next year’s planned costs will stand at 700 million litas higher than this year, apart from the special funds. An additional 400 million litas will be necessary for debt service and contribution to the European Union’s budget. Under the convergence program, next year, the budget deficit should not exceed 5.8 percent, having evaluated the deficit of the Social Insurance Fund, transfers to the second step of pension funds, the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant decommissioning fund, the remaining reserve for the state budget deficit is less than 2.4 percent.