Lithuania Seeks 16-Year Jail Term for Alleged Real IRA Smuggler

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 4:35 pm (UTC-5)
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A Lithuanian prosecutor has asked a court to jail an Irish citizen for 16 years on charges of trying to smuggle weapons to an Irish paramilitary group opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland.

Speaking Friday, prosecutor Gedgaudas Norkunas told the Vilnius court it should convict and sentence the Irishman, Michael Campbell, for attempting to purchase illegal weapons, attempting to smuggle, and supporting a terrorist group.

The 38-year old suspect was arrested in the Lithuanian capital in January 2008 on suspicion of trying to buy firearms and explosives from undercover agents involved in an international sting operation.

Prosecutors say he paid the agents $8,600 and told them the weapons would be used by the Real Irish Republican Army to target British government vehicles and British soldiers. The Real IRA broke away from the main Irish Republican Army to protest its participation in the Northern Ireland peace process and the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accords.

Campbell told reporters at the court that he denies the charges. His lawyer, Ingrida Botyriene, says undercover agents “provoked” the Irishman's actions. Prosecutor Norkunas rejected that claim, saying Campbell acted willingly.

Campbell's brother, Liam, is one of four members of the Real IRA found liable in a British civil court case for a 1998 bombing that killed 29 people in Omagh, Northern Ireland.