Lithuania prosecutors appeal Real IRA acquittal

2nd January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Prosecutors in Lithuania said Thursday they had appealed the acquittal of an Irishman charged with plotting to smuggle arms from the Baltic state to the Real IRA paramilitary group.

The motion to the Supreme Court requests a retrial because of alleged procedural irregularities, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors, Rita Stundiene, told AFP.

Michael Campbell was initially sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2011, but an appeals court struck down the sentence in October last year.

The judge said it could not rule out Campbell's claim that he was framed by British intelligence, and insisted there was no evidence linking Campbell with the Real IRA.

Campbell left Lithuania immediately after the October 2 verdict and now lives in Ireland, his lawyer Ingrida Botyriene told AFP Thursday.

He was arrested in 2008 in Vilnius when he met a Lithuanian agent posing as an arms dealer.

The 41-year-old Irishman was sentenced to 12 years behind bars by a district court in 2011 for attempted smuggling, aiding a terrorist group and illegal possession of arms.

But he appealed, arguing there was no evidence backing up the testimony of a main witness for the prosecution identified in court as a smuggler and British agent.

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

© 2014 AFP

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