LIAM CAMPBELL È LIBERO
A dissident republican wanted in Lithuania over allegations he was behind a Real IRA gun-running plot has walked free from Maghaberry prison.
Liam Campbell (50), who was found liable for the Omagh bomb in 2009, is now unlikely to be ever extradited to the Baltic state.
The former member of the Real IRA’s ruling army council has just been released from the jail where he was held for four years during a lengthy extradition battle.
The Lithuanian authorities have fought a lengthy legal battle to extradite Campbell to face questioning and possible charges over an arms’ plot which could have seen him behind bars for a decade.
Campbell’s brother Michael is already serving a 12-year sentence in Lithuania after being caught in 2008 in an MI5 sting operation trying to buy explosives, grenade launchers and rifles from intelligence agents posing as dealers.
In January, the Belfast Recorders Court refused to order Campbell’s transfer to the Baltic state. Judge Tom Burgess said he could be exposed to inhuman and degrading conditions.
Days later, Campbell applied for bail at Belfast High Court but was refused. But further efforts by his lawyers were successful and he was released last Thursday.
He had spent most of his time there in solitary confinement and under 23-hour lock up after being thrown off the republican wing by former Real IRA comrades.
He was regarded as a threat to the peace process by security forces on both sides of the border.
After the Omagh bomb, the Real IRA army council held a crisis meeting. Campbell argued strongly against a ceasefire but lost. In 2004, he was sentenced to eight years in the Republic for Real IRA membership.
Following his brother’s arrest, the Lithuanian authorities immediately sought his extradition. During the court case, Rod Morgan – a special advisor to the Home Office – was highly critical of Lithuanian prisons. The court heard claims of torture, over-crowding, and poor conditions.
Along with Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, Dundalk farmer Liam Campbell was held responsible for the 1998 Omagh bomb in a landmark civil action in 2009. Dundalk builder Colm Murphy and his ex-employee Seamus Daly from Cullaville, Co Monaghan, were also found responsible last week. McKevitt and Campbell have failed to have the findings overturned.