Irish Republican News · October 2, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Michael Campbell’s conviction overturned by Lithuanian court
Michael Campbell’s conviction overturned by Lithuanian court

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The Court of Appeal of Lithuania on Wednesday cleared Irish citizen Michael Campbell, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for trying to buy weapons for the Real IRA in 2008.

The court ruled that British and Lithuanian institutions had failed to provide evidence to refute defence arguments that the County Louth man had been entrapped in an MI5 sting operation.

Mr Campbell walked free from court as a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

The judge, Viktoras Kazys said British security forces had not provided evidence refuting claims that he acted under provocation of MI5 agents.

He was referring to anonymous agents provocateurs paid by MI5 to entice the County Louth man into discussing the purchase of contraband items, including weapons. Their (heavily edited) videotaped evidence saw Mr Campbell convicted in 2008.

“There was no direct evidence proving Campbell’s ties with Real IRA,” the judge said.

“He was never arrested by British or Irish authorities for terrorism-linked activities. The prosecution did not provide enough evidence to deny statements that Campbell’s actions were provoked by undercover MI5 agents.”

Mr Campbell’s lawyer, Ingrida Botyriene, escorted him to the Irish Embassy after his release.

“A person cannot be sentenced for a crime committed by state officials,” she said. “We will be discussing possibilities to demand compensation for my client.”

Mr Kazys said the position of the British security forces had undermined the prosecution after they refused to question others involved in the case.

“As UK and Irish institutions refuse to cooperate with Lithuanian court and prosecutors, there is no possibility of an in-depth hearing of the case,” the judge added.

Mr Campbell has been held in appalling conditions in Lukiskes and other jails around the capital, Vilnius, since his arrest six years ago.

A recent delegation of Irish parliamentarians recently travelled to Lithuania for the appeal hearing, and a petition for his release had recently gained international support.

Mr Campbell smiled in relief as police took off his handcuffs and freed him in court in the capital, Vilnius.

He said after the hearing that his immediate plan was to return to Ireland to be reunited with his family.

“I am very happy,” he said, adding that he planned to return to Ireland. “I will go as soon as possible.”

Mr Campbell’s lawyer, Ingrida Botyriene, escorted him to the Irish Embassy after his release.

“A person cannot be sentenced for a crime committed by state officials,” she said. “We will be discussing possibilities to demand compensation for my client.”

© 2013 Irish Republican News