An Irishman facing prosecution for alleged IRA actions and gunrunning should not be surrendered to Lithuania because of concerns over whether he would receive a fair trial, the High Court has heard.
Liam Campbell (pictured) was arrested in Dundalk in December 2016 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Lithuanian authorities, despite never having set foot in the country.
The arrest warrant claimed that Mr Campbell organised preparations for the purchase of weapons in support of the breakaway ‘Real IRA’ between the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007.
Lithuania has been unable to state whether a trial will go ahead following their investigation into Mr Campbell. Remy Farrell, his barrister, submitted that his client would face a significant period of pre-trial detention and that a trial was “an event that may or may not happen”.
Mr Farrell also told the court that there was also an issue as to whether Mr Campbell could receive a fair trial, particularly having regard to the issue of translation.
The court heard from an affidavit by Liam Campbell’s brother, Michael Campbell. In 2011, in a court in Vilnius, Lithuania, Michael was convicted of aiding the Real IRA and possessing arms and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
However, in 2013, an appeals court overturned the conviction. Arguing that his right to a fair trial had been breached, the affidavit stated that Michael Campbell had never received an English translation of the book of evidence and therefore had very little ability to engage with the facts of the case.
The court also heard that Michael Campbell was asked to sign documents he did not understand, was provided with incomplete translations, and had serious doubts about the independence of the translators.
Mr Farrell then presented a third objection, related to prison conditions in Lithuania. The court heard that there were issues regarding sanitation, visitation rights and overcrowding. The prison where Mr Campbell would likely be held awaiting trial, if extradited, is a former concentration camp.
Republican Sinn Fein called for Mr Campbell’s release.
“For the barristers and solicitors of the 26 county administration, being an Irish Republican is evidence enough for conviction, jail, extradition and incarceration,” they said.
“Should Liam Campbell be extradited he will not be the first Irish Republican to be sent to foreign jurisdictions, be held for weeks, months and even years only to be released due to a lack of evidence or complete innocence.
“We need only look back to the extradition of Ryan McKenna or Dessie Ellis for proof of how easily the state will extradite those who were later proved innocent of the charges put before the court.”
Judgement is pending in the case. If extradited and found guilty, Mr Campbell faces a potential sentence of 20 years.
Meanwhile, Belfast man Jim Corry, extradited last year, is back in Ireland following his conviction this week by a German court.
Mr Corry, who lived with his wife Christine in the village of Killorglin, County Kerry for 20 years, was arrested in October 2015 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant for charges relating to a Provisional IRA attack on a British Army base in Germany in 1996.
Mr Corry pleaded guilty to helping stage the rocket attack in in Osnabrueck, but said the attack was only intended to demonstrate that the British Army was not safe anywhere from the IRA.
He had initially been arrested in 1996 but was released because the German constitution did not allow for the extradition of Irish citizens to the country.
A court in Osnabrueck sentenced him to four years in jail on Wednesday, but one was waived because of an unlawful delay. Mr Corry (pictured below, centre) was welcomed home to Ireland on Thursday by a crowd that included members of Sinn Fein - Republican Youth.