Explosives expert testifies in Lithuania Real IRA arms trial

30th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

An explosives expert gave evidence Thursday in the closed-door trial of an Irishman accused of plotting to smuggle arms to Irish paramilitary group the Real IRA, a lawyer said.

Defence attorney Ingrida Botyriene told AFP that the Lithuanian expert, whom she could not identify for security reasons, was the last of 11 witnesses to take the stand in the trial of Michael Campbell, which began in August 2009.

However, she said, the court still has to hear secret audio and video recordings presented by prosecutors.

"Future hearings may be closed, as the voices of classified witnesses could be heard," she said.

Lithuanian and British intelligence agents have given evidence behind closed doors on the orders of the judge.

There have only been a handful of hearings in the trial, the last of which was on September 17.

"I hope that the case may be finished by the end of this year," Botyriene said.

Campbell, 38, was arrested in a January 2008 sting in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

He denies the charges of attempted weapons smuggling, illegal firearms possession and seeking to aid a terrorist organisation, saying he was set up. He faces a 20-year sentence if convicted.

Campbell is the brother of Liam Campbell, 47, one of four leaders of the Real Irish Republican Army found liable by a civil court for the August 1998 bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland, which killed 29 people.

Liam Campbell is wanted in the Lithuania case. Detained in May 2009 in Northern Ireland on a Lithuanian warrant, he is battling extradition.

The Real IRA split from the Provisional IRA -- once the main Republican armed group opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland -- in 1997 over the latter's support for a peace deal with London.

© 2010 AFP

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