Irish Republican News · May 29, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: PSNI seize Liam Campbell, attempt extradition
PSNI seize Liam Campbell, attempt extradition
liamcampbell.jpg

Prominent republican Liam Campbell was arrested in dramatic fashion in County Armagh last weekend when the PSNI police rammed his car after discovering he had crossed the border from the 26 Counties.

The Dundalk farmer was then questioned for four days at Antrim interrogation centre before being freed without charge. He was then immediately rearrested under a European warrant issued by the Lithuanian authorities last year on charges of smuggling arms or cigarettes.

Extradition proceedings against the alleged ‘Real IRA’ leader have been under way in Dublin since January but his arrest in the Six Counties has gravely confused the matter.

Mr Campbell’s lawyer, Peter Corrigan, told the court he was only in the North to take his wife to work. He said she could not drive herself because she had recently broken her wrist.

Mr Corrigan pointed out that since his arrest in the 26 Counties in January, he had complied with his bail conditions, including reporting to gardai daily and attending court hearings in Dublin. He had also put up O50,000 in assurity, the lawyer added.

“When he was arrested he was actually on his way back to the Republic of Ireland,” he said, adding that there had been no breach of his (26 County) bail conditions.

Mr Corrigan urged the judge to let his client return to the 26 Counties so extradition process there could run its course.

“The whole foundation of this extradition warrant is based on the breach of his bail which was wrong.”

He said if his client did not return to Dublin for the next hearing he could potentially forfeit a surety he had put up as part of his bail conditions.

Barrister Steven Ritchie representing the Lithuanian authorities said proceedings should take place in Belfast.

“He was arrested under a warrant that has not been dealt with anywhere,” he said, adding: “The court has no power to take him to the border and hand him over.” He claimed Mr Campbell was a flight risk.

The judge has been in contact with the Lithuania Prosecutor General who, he said, was of the opinion it was for the British state to now execute the extradition warrant because Campbell is in their jurisdiction. He said he would consider the issues over the weekend and make a decision on Monday.

Michael Campbell, the brother of Liam, has already been held in detention in Lithuania without charge for over twelve months. He was arrested in 2008 in Vilnius, Lithuania for allegedly trying to buy contraband goods and has been kept in detention in a Lithuanian jail ever since.

In a letter written in December 2008, Michael Campbell wrote about the difficult conditions that he was being kept under and complained that he had also been refused contact with his wife (who was also arrested last January, but later released) and other family members.

Human rights groups have expressed concern a about the welfare of Michael Campbell in a Lithuanian state prison system that has been heavily criticised for the ill treatment of its prisoners in the past by the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

The Dublin government has been warned that if the extradition is granted it could be in breach of Article 3 the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Another Irishman, Meath man Seamus McGreevy, who says he has never been to Lithuania, is a third Irishman to be caught up in a web of allegations. He was arrested in January and is also on bail in the South pending an extradition hearing.

PRISON PROTEST ENDS

A six-week dirty protest at Portlaoise prison came to an end last Friday afternoon as the eight ‘Real IRA’ prisoners involved ended their demonstration.

The prisoners began their protest because periods of temporary release had been withdrawn by justice minister Dermot Ahern following the ‘Real IRA’ attack on a British Army base in County Antrim in March. Prisoners were then confined to their cells as a result of their protest.

The move was seen as collective punishment and part of a crackdown on dissidents across Ireland.

In a statement, the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association said the protesting prisoners decided to end their protest when those prisoners who had previously been denied temporary release had it granted.

“The IRPWA give this change of heart by the Department of Justice and the Irish Prisons Service a cautious welcome and we hope that it is extended to all Republicans prisoners who qualify for Temporary Release and not used as a tool to reward or punish prisoners arbitrarily.”

© 2009 Irish Republican News